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Dodgers To Host 2020 All-Star Game For First Time Since 1980

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The Los Angeles Dodgers have officially been named the hosts of the 2020 All-Star Game, several outlets first reported on Tuesday.

It’s been 38 years since Dodger Stadium last held the Mid-Summer Classic.

Three All-Star games have been held in California since 2007 after the state didn’t experience one since 1992.

2020 will make the third occurrence of the Dodgers hosting the All-Star Game, and second time at Dodger Stadium (1959, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum).

This year’s All-Star Game will be held at Nationals Park in Washington D.C., as Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will make the calls for the National League squad; next year’s game will take place at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

American League

Red Sox Knuckleballer Steven Wright Suspended For PEDs

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Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright will sit out 80 games without pay.

The Boston Red Sox pitching staff suffered a big setback on Wednesday. The MLB announced that Boston knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright has been suspended 80 games for testing positive for the performance enhancing substance GHRP-2 ( Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide 2). The blow is a major one for both Boston and Wright personally, it will be All-Star Game time before he will be eligible to return.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced over the winter that the plan was for Wright to be converted to a reliever in 2019 and serve as a middle innings specialist. Boston’s bullpen will look dramatically different this year than it did during its historic 2018 campaign. Setup man Joe Kelly left for the Dodgers via free agency and the team has walked away from closer Craig Kimbrel, who is reportedly seeking at least a six-year deal and remains unsigned as Opening Day draws nearer and nearer. How President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski will fill the void remains to be seen.

Wright, on the other hand, has struggled remarkably over the last three seasons for a multitude of reasons and his strife just got even worse. In 2016 Wright was putting together one of the best seasons by a knuckleball pitcher in MLB history when he injured his shoulder as pinch runner in August. It forced him to miss the remainder of the year and dashed his case for the Cy Young award. Things didn’t improve the following season as he was limited to just five total appearances due to a knee injury that also ended his season, this time in May.

Then things took a far more serious turn. Wright was arrested on December 8, 2017 after a dispute with his wife Shannon at their Tennessee home in which he allegedly attempted to prevent her from calling 911, though his wife and the family’s attorney have both stated that Wright never laid a hand on her. Though it can be argued that his wife threw him under the bus, the MLB suspended Wright for the first 15 games of the 2018 season after he completed a rehab assignment. His knee issues returned after he served his suspension and he missed significant time for the third consecutive season, including Boston’s run to its fourth World Series title since 2004.

Given all this, it seemed like things for the knuckleballer couldn’t get any worse. After Boston’s 6-1 loss to Pittsburgh in Grapefruit League play, Wright spoke to the media and denied knowingly taking any banned substance, but accepted his punishment.

“I respect the Joint Drug Treatment Program,” Wright said to MLB.com’s Ian Browne. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t figure out how this particular substance got into my system. At the end of the day, it falls on me to try to prevent that.”

The 34-year-old has been attempting to simply get back to square one for the better part of the past three years, and he now has an even higher mountain to climb to make that happen. Wright proved in 2016 what kind of a pitcher he can be when he is healthy, but he hasn’t been consistently since then. The suspension could prove to be beneficial in that sense, however. Since it will be July before he can rejoin the Red Sox, Wright will have plenty of time to rest and rehabilitate and that could allow his plagued knee to at long last get back to 100%.

As for Boston, the team’s bullpen is now even more shorthanded than before. Will this force Dombrowski to re-open negotiations with Kimbrel? Boston has made its intentions of reducing payroll very clear and there’s no way that the team will give him the contract he’s seeking. If Dombrowski can get him to accept a lesser deal, it would be a great signing. Boston’s ‘pen was not strong in 2018 and now looks to be mediocre at best. Cora and Dombrowski have to address the flaw if the Red Sox want to be strong once again.

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American League

Royals C Salvador Perez To Have Tommy John Surgery

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Six-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez will miss all of 2019.

The Kansas City Royals’ 2019 season may have been effectively torpedoed before it even began. The team announced on Tuesday night that catcher and franchise cornerstone Salvador Perez will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, he will miss the entirety of the 2019 season.

The announcement comes after the Royals diagnosed Perez with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm. The 28-year-old sought a second opinion, but Dr. Neal ElAttrache of Los Angeles confirmed that Perez can’t avoid baseball’s two deadliest letters, TJ. It is believed he sustained the injury working out over the winter and did the final damage last Wednesday during a throwing session, Kansas City’s MLB.com reporter Jeff Flanagan states.

The news is obviously terrible for Perez, the MLB’s best defensive catcher and an All-Star in each of the last six seasons. The standard rehabilitation time is 14 months, though it will likely be less in this case for it is not a pitcher. Perez will undergo the operation tomorrow and, if all goes well, he could be ready in time for the start of the 2020 season.

Removing Perez from the equation isn’t good news for the Royals at all. The team has struggled mightily over the last two seasons and fell right back in the cellar of the American League Central almost as quickly as it climbed out and won the 2015 World Series. Ned Yost’s squad lacks big names and just lost its biggest for the entire season before it even began. With Perez out of the equation, Cam Gallagher will likely be the team’s Opening Day catcher.

The Royals probably weren’t expected to do much this season, but it appears they definitely won’t now unless they can fill a very sizable void.

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Harper Jumps Ship To NL East Rival Phillies

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OF Bryce Harper now owns the biggest free agent deal in North American pro sports (Yahoo!)

A representative of the Guinness Book of Records had better be present on April 2 when the Philadelphia Phillies come to Washington DC for their first meeting with the Nationals in 2019. Because, when a certain player that will be donning a Phillies jersey that wore a Nationals jersey last season steps to the plate for the first time, the subsequent boo might break the sound barrier.

Bryce Harper was the face of the Washington Nationals from April 28, 2012 until September 30, 2018, his last game with the team. Seeking pastures greener, Harper tested the free agent market all winter long to see whom would shovel out the most. Washington attempted to resign its franchise cornerstone, but a deal could not be reached and Nationals’ owner Mark Lerner announced on February 22 that his team was walking away.

That opened the door for a team the Nationals are very familiar with to officially capitalize. It was reported earlier today that Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies had come to terms on the biggest free agent contract in the history of North American professional sports. The club has not confirmed yet, but the deal is reportedly a 13-year, $330 million blockbuster that includes a no-trade clause and no opt-outs (the latter of which is an extreme rarity in today’s MLB). If true, the 26-year-old Harper will be in a Philadelphia uniform until he’s 40.

Fellow marquee free agent Manny Machado inked a 10-year, $300 million deal with the San Diego Padres on February 19 that was the biggest free agent deal in North American professional sports for all of nine days. Everyone knew that Harper’s deal would exceed it in terms of pay, but not a lot saw it being more in terms of years. Unless he agrees to waive his no-trade agreement, Harper could be a Phillie until he retires. The amount of the deal is interesting seeing as Harper is coming off a year that saw him bat just .249, though he did hit 34 home runs and broke the century mark in RBI for the first time in his career.

Whether intentional or Harper’s part or not, the signing is a pretty big slap in the face to his former club. Philly and Washington have been rivals since the days of the Montreal Expos. And though it may not be tantamount to Babe Ruth going from Boston to New York, it’s one of the biggest examples of stars joining rival teams in sports history. The Nationals won’t be the same team without Harper, who was the centerpiece of what was once a potent offense. The team is trending downward however and the absence of its biggest bat may have the basement calling.

The Phillies, on the other hand, may have become contenders as a result of gaining such a big star. Gabe Kapler’s team turned many heads in 2018 and wound up missing the playoffs by a far slimmer margin than was ever expected. Giving a young team on the rise a jolt in the form of one of the game’s biggest names could pay handsomely in a hurry. Harper has been on-and-off in his career and has struggled a lot with injuries, but the Phillies are obviously confident that a change of scenery will do the outfielder good.

Is the signing wise? Did Philadelphia overpay for a star who has struggled with consistency? Find me on Twitter at @Flat_Manigen74 and let me know.

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