Cubs

See the latest player to test positive for PEDs

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See the latest player to test positive for PEDs

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Outfielder Marlon Byrd was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball on Monday after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Major League Baseball said the 34-year-old Byrd tested positive for Tamoxifen, which can reduce side effects of steroid use and increase testosterone. It is often used to treat breast cancer patients. "I made an inexcusable mistake," Byrd said in a statement released by the players' association. "Several years ago, I had surgery for a condition that was private and unrelated to baseball. Last winter, I suffered a recurrence of that condition and I was provided with a medication that resulted in my positive test. Although that medication is on the banned list, I absolutely did not use it for performance enhancement reasons." Byrd is currently a free agent, and will be placed on the restricted list for the duration of his suspension, which began immediately. He started the season with the Cubs and was dealt to the Red Sox on April 21. He was designated for assignment by Boston on June 9 and released four days later. "I am mortified by my carelessness and I apologize to everyone who loves this game as I do," Byrd said. "I will serve my suspension, continue to work hard and hope that I am given an opportunity to help a Club win later this season." In 2009, Byrd said he was using supplements provided by SNAC System, a company founded by Victor Conte, who also was the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative. BALCO was at the center of a wide-ranging scandal involving performance-enhancing drugs that enveloped several top-level athletes, including Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery and Barry Bonds. Conte pleaded guilty to steroid distribution in July 2005 and served four months in jail. Byrd said the supplements were all OK to use under MLB rules. He had never before been suspended for failing an PED test. "Any nutritional supplements I ever provided to Marlon Byrd were legal products that contained no banned substances," Conte wrote on Twitter. "I provided Marlon Byrd with nutritional and training advice which had nothing whatsoever to do with any type of prohibited substances." In an email to The Associated Press, Conte said he still supports Byrd. "Marlon Byrd is a terrific person and did not use a drug to cheat," Conte said in his email. "Look at his numbers this season, the worst of his career. Traded and then cut. I was not aware of his medical condition. Marlon is my friend and I will always have his back." Byrd hit .210 in 47 games with the two teams, though he hit .270 with a homer and seven RBIs in 34 games with Boston. The Red Sox picked him up when they had a shortage in the outfield after a rash of injuries. "He played here and he played well," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "I had no indication or I don't think anyone did." The 34-year-old Byrd has played for five teams in 11 major league seasons and is a career .278 hitter. Byrd finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2003 with the Phillies and was a National League All-Star with the Cubs in 2010.

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

MESA, Ariz. — The first thing Kyle Schwarber told his new hitting coach?

"His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.'"

The Cubs hired Chili Davis as the team's new hitting coach for myriad reasons. He's got a great track record from years working with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, and that .274/.360/.451 slash line during an illustrious 19-year big league career certainly helps.

But Davis' main immediate task in his new gig will be to help several of the Cubs' key hitters prove Schwarber's assessment correct.

Schwarber had a much-publicized tough go of things in 2017. After he set the world on fire with his rookie campaign in 2015 and returned from what was supposed to be a season-ending knee injury in time to be one of the Cubs' World Series heroes in 2016, he hit just .211 last season, getting sent down to Triple-A Iowa for a stint in the middle of the season. Schwarber still hit 30 home runs, but his 2017 campaign was seen as a failure by a lot of people.

Enter Davis, who now counts Schwarber as one of his most important pupils.

"He's a worker," Davis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Schwarbs, he knows he's a good player. His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.' He said last year was just a fluke year. He said, 'I've never failed in my life.' And he said, 'I'm going to get back to the player that I was.'

"I think he may have — and this is my thought, he didn't say this to me — I think it may have been, he had a big World Series, hit some homers, and I think he tried to focus on being more of a home run type guy as opposed to being a good hitter.

"His focus has changed. I had nothing to do with that, he came in here with that focus that he wants to be a good hitter first and let whatever happens happen. And he's worked on that. The main thing with Kyle is going to be is just maintaining focus."

The physically transformed Schwarber mentioned last week that he's established a good relationship with Davis, in no small part because Schwarber can relate to what Davis went through when he was a player. And to hear Davis tell it, it sounds like he's describing Schwarber's first three years as a big leaguer to a T.

"Telling him my story was important because it was similar," Davis said. "I was a catcher, got to big league camp, and I was thrown in the outfield. And I hated the outfield. ... But I took on the challenge. I made the adjustment, I had a nice first year, then my second year I started spiraling. I started spiraling down, and I remember one of my coaches saying, 'I'm going to have to throw you a parachute just so you can land softly.' I got sent down to Triple-A at the All-Star break for 15 days.

"When I got sent down, I was disappointed, but I was also really happy. I needed to get away from the big league pressure and kind of find myself again. I went home and refocused myself and thought to myself, 'I'm going to come back as Chili.' Because I tried to change, something changed about me the second year.

"And when I did that, I came back the next year and someone tried to change me and I said, 'Pump the breaks a little bit, let me fail my way, and then I'll come to you if I'm failing.' And they understood that, and I had a nice year, a big year and my career took off.

"I'm telling him, 'Hey, let last year go. It happened, it's in the past. Keep working hard, maintain your focus, and you'll be fine.'"

Getting Schwarber right isn't Davis' only task, of course. Despite the Cubs being one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball last season, they had plenty of guys go through subpar seasons. Jason Heyward still has yet to find his offensive game since coming to Chicago as a high-priced free agent. Ben Zobrist was bothered by a wrist injury last season and put up the worst numbers of his career. Addison Russell had trouble staying healthy, as well, and saw his numbers dip from what they were during the World Series season in 2016.

So Davis has plenty of charges to work with. But he likes what he's seen so far.

"They work," Davis said. "They come here to work. I had a group of guys in Boston that were the same last year, and it makes my job easier. They want to get better, they come out every day, they show up, they want to work. They're excited, and I'm excited to be around them.

And what have the Cubs found out about Davis? Just about everyone answers that question the same way: He likes to talk.

"I'm not going to stop talking," he said. "If I stop talking, something's wrong."

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: