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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.

American League

Rays Place Yandy Diaz On 10-Day IL

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Yandy Diaz

The Tampa Bay Rays have placed third baseman Yandy Diaz on the 10-day injured list, according to MLB.com’s Juan Toribio.

In a corresponding move, the Rays called up infielder Daniel Robertson to take Diaz’s spot on the roster.

Diaz has been dealing with hamstring tightness lately and will now hope to rehab for a quick return to the active roster.

Diaz has posted a slash line of .286/.363/.502 hitting and 11 home runs thus far this season.

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American League

Astros Activate Jose Altuve

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The Houston Astros have activated second baseman Jose Altuve from the injured list and he is now active on the roster.

In a corresponding move, the Astros optioned lefty Cionel Perez to create the roster spot needed for the addition of Altuve.

Altuve, who last played back on May 10th, hit the injured list with a left hamstring strain.

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American League

Yankees Activate Giancarlo Stanton

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The New York Yankees have officially activated slugger Giancarlo Stanton from the injured list, according to a team announcement.

In a corresponding move, the Yankees have optioned outfielder Mike Tauchman, who was optioned on Monday night.

Stanton has missed the majority of the season, mainly due to a biceps issue, but his stay on the injured was extended due to a shoulder strain, and calf injury that popped up during his rehab.

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