Baseball Report

By Bob Hurst

Major League Baseball’s drug-testing program is alive and well. MLB announced on Tuesday that Cincinnati Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez has been suspended 50 games following a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs.

Volquez is the first player to be suspended since Manny Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers was penalized 50 games last season.

A right-handed starter, Volquez is recovering from surgery on his right elbow and was expected back about midseason. He will lose about $137,000 of his $445,000 salary this season due to the suspension.

“The Reds fully support Major League Baseball’s drug policy and its penalties,” the team said in a statement. “The organization does not condone in any way the use of drugs not sanctioned by MLB’s medical staff.”

Volquez, 26, went 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA in 2008, his first year with the Reds. He was named to the National League All-Star team that season. Last year, he was 4-2 with a 4.35 ERA.

Yankees top payroll list again: How large is the difference in payroll between the top and bottom teams in Major League Baseball?

Just look at the starting infield for the New York Yankees, which has a payroll of $85.2 million. Not even the bottom two clubs, San Diego ($37.8 million) and Pittsburgh ($34.9 million) can match that. And the Yankees infield makes more than the payroll of 16 teams, according to a report in USA Today, which conducts an annual salary and payroll survey.

The survey also found that salaries have dropped 17 percent overall, with the Pirates taking a huge cut of 28 percent. And the average player’s salary has fallen from $3.2 million to $2.7 million from 2009 to Opening Day of this season, with 14 clubs taking on lower payrolls.

The Yankees, who upped their payroll by two percent, once again have the largest payroll in the majors, listed at $206.3 million in a survey by the Associated Press, with an average player salary of $8.2 million. Boston, which increased its payroll by 33 percent this season, ranks second at $162.7 million.

In third is the Chicago Cubs with a payroll of $146.8 million, followed by Philadelphia ($141.9 million) and the New York Mets ($132.7 million). Detroit, the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels rank 6 – 8 with payrolls exceeding $100 million. Seattle and San Francisco round out the top 10.

Minnesota, with a franchise-record payroll of $97.6 million, is 11th, and that will increase next year when Joe Mauer’s eight-year, $184 million contract takes effect.

Florida, Texas, Oakland, San Diego and Pittsburgh sit at the bottom of the major leagues in payroll.

StatsWatch: Johnny Damon and Curtis Granderson switched teams in the off-season, with former New York Yankee Damon signing as a free agent with the Detroit Tigers and Granderson getting traded to the Yankees from the Tigers. Here’s how the outfielders compared offensively through Monday’s games, with Granderson getting the early edge:

Johnny Damon, Tigers, .279 AVG, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 8 BB, 8 K, 0 SB.

Curtis Granderson, Yankees, .311 AVG., 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 BB, 9 K, 4 SB.

Fun Fact: On April 25, 2009, the Philadelphia Phillies extended their major league record by allowing a home run in each of their first 16 games.

No hoodies allowed: Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon won’t be able to wear his favorite hoodie, which he likes to pullover on cold days. Major League Baseball told Maddon that the hoodie is not approved for use during games.

Diamond Notes: With its sweep of Boston completed on Monday, Tampa Bay matched a team record for the longest winning streak away from Tropican Field in one season. The Rays seventh straight win on the road gave them their first sweep at Fenway Park in a series of three or more games…The 20-inning game between the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night was the longest game in the majors in two years. Jose Reyes hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly to lead the Mets past the Cardinals 2-1 in extra, extra innings. “That’s the happiest 0-for-7 I’ve ever had in my life,” Reyes said. The game was scoreless for 18 innings.

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