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Indians To Activate Josh Donaldson

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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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Yankees Name Andy Pettitte As Special Advisor to General Manager

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The New York Yankees have announced that they have added former pitcher to their front office, naming him as a special advisor to general manager Brian Cashman, according to a team announcement on Monday.

Pettitte spent 15 of his 18 MLB seasons with the Yankees, winning 5 World Series Championships and becoming the winningest postseason pitcher in MLB history along the way.

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