Two players implicated for steroid use in a documentary released last year were cleared by Major League Baseball on Friday.
Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman, two of the handful of professional athletes named in the Al Jazeera documentary that aired in December, were found innocent of any wrongdoing after MLB's investigation into the matter, the league said in a statement.
“The Office of the Commissioner has completed its investigation into the statements made by Charlie Sly concerning players Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies and Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals in the Al Jazeera documentary 'The Dark Side,'" the statement read. "This thorough investigation did not find any violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by either Howard or Zimmerman."
NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, another athlete identified in the documentary, has also since been cleared by an independent investigation in recent months. Active NFL players Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, James Harrison and Mike Neal have yet to have their names publicly cleared, but they recently agreed to meet with the league in an attempt to get the issue resolved ahead of the NFL season.
Veteran free agent catcher Taylor Teagarden, who was shown on video saying he used PEDs, has been suspended 80 games by MLB. He'll begin serving the suspension if and when he signs with a team.
Friday's revelation by the league isn't the end of the line for Zimmerman and Howard, though. Both players, in statements released following MLB's exoneration, said they plan to follow through with defamation lawsuits previously filed against Al Jazeera.
"The accusations from Al Jazeera came out of nowhere, and I was shocked and outraged by their false claims," Howard said. "I welcomed the investigation by Major League Baseball as an opportunity to clear my name. I was fully cooperative and transparent in the process, and MLB's findings validate what I have said publicly. I am glad that this part of the process has concluded, and I look forward to holding the responsible people accountable for these false and defamatory claims in my ongoing litigation against Al Jazeera and its reporters."
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Hoffman Set To Make MLB Debut
Rockies starting pitching has been a pleasant surprise this season, and a top prospect could add to that group Saturday.
Jeff Hoffman, the centerpiece of the return the Rockies got from the Blue Jays for Troy Tulowitzki last season, will be promoted to make his major league debut Saturday. The right-hander won't get any favors, either, facing the Cubs in his first start.
“Into the fire, but we feel like Jeff can handle it,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said Friday. “He’s got plenty of stuff. It’s plus stuff, even at the major-league level. He can navigate lineups with his stuff alone. I feel like he’s ready for this. You’ve got to start your career at some point, and his is going to be tomorrow.”
Hoffman, a former first-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2014, earned the promotion after striking out 124 batters over 118 2/3 innings while posting a 4.02 ERA in 22 starts at Triple-A Albuquerque. Between three stops last season, Hoffman put up a 3.03 ERA in 20 starts.
Hoffman's talent is undeniable, but the regular caveats about Coors Field and, for Saturday, pitchers facing the Cubs offense remain. Former first-rounders Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson have enjoyed degrees of success this year, as has the injured Tyler Chatwood, who Hoffman will be replacing on the 25-man roster, offering hope that Hoffman can follow a similar path in the future. For now, though, he's merely a talent to keep tabs on.
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National League Quick Hits: Cubs placed RHP John Lackey on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to August 15, with a right shoulder strain. Lackey had to leave his last outing with a bit of shoulder tightness. The initial hope was that he'd be ready for his next start, but the Cubs have decided to exercise caution here. Lackey should be ready to return by the end of the month ... Mets activated OF Yoenis Cespedes from the 15-day disabled list. He was right back in the middle of the Mets lineup in Friday's contest against the Giants. He'll need to be the premier offensive presence that he was after his acquisition in the second half last season if the Mets are going to make another run at the postseason ... A.J. Pollock (elbow, intercostal) resumed his rehab assignment with High-A Visalia on Thursday. Pollock didn't play for three days due to tightness in his intercostal area. The ailment apparently arose following a long car ride rather than any baseball-related activity he did, which is a relief. Pollock moved his rehab assignment up to Triple-A Reno on Friday. He's about a week and a half away from rejoining the Diamondbacks, assuming all goes well. Pollock is batting .409/.519/.727 with two homers over eight games so far on his rehab assignment ... Charlie Blackmon was a late scratch from Friday's game against the Cubs due to a bruised right big toe. It's unclear exactly how Blackmon sustained the injury, but it may have occurred during the lengthy rain delay before Friday's game. He's considered day-to-day ... Braves activated RHP Julio Teheran from the 15-day disabled list ahead of Friday's start against the Nationals. The righty first injured his lat nearly a month ago but has been cleared to return after allowing just one earned run while striking out five and walking none in a five-inning rehab start with Triple-A Gwinnett. He gave up three runs over five innings in a no-decision in his return to the Braves ... Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Friday that Rich Hill (blister) is "penciled" into the rotation next week. We've heard that a few times before. Hill got through a simulated game on Thursday with no issues, so unless he has yet another setback with his blister it appears he'll finally make his Dodgers' debut sometime next week. He last started on July 17, when he was still a member of the Athletics ... The Marlins remain hopeful that A.J. Ramos (finger) will be ready for activation from the disabled list on Sunday when first eligible. Ramos will test out his fractured right middle finger with a simulated game on Friday. It's hard to imagine that the finger is totally healed already, but evidently the reliever will attempt to pitch through it. Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Thursday that he could use Ramos in a setup role if it looks like the reliever won't be able to handle his normal workload. "If it's going to be every other day or he can't go back-to-back type of situation, that's what we have to find out," Mattingly said. "In that role, you don't want to be flipping guys around all the time." Fernando Rodney has been closing for the Marlins and will continue to do so until Ramos is ready to resume his old job ... Brewers activated OF Domingo Santana from the 15-day disabled list. Santana batted sixth and playing right field on Friday. The 24-year-old outfielder has an intriguing blend of power and speed, but was hitting just .234/.347/.391 with four homers in 128 big league at-bats this season. He should see regular playing time the rest of the way and could be worth a look in deeper mixed leagues ... Junior Guerra (elbow) was slated to throw a bullpen session on Friday. He's thrown on flat ground for a few days with no issues and is ready to test things out from the bump. The Brewers think Guerra could rejoin the rotation without making a rehab start first, so he might be ready for activation early next week if all goes well.
American League Quick Hits: Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Marlins and Giants are "among the possible landing spots" for Carlos Gomez. We've known about the Marlins' interest for a while now and they are certainly an obvious fit after Giancarlo Stanton's season-ending groin injury. It's the first time that the Giants have been mentioned as a possible fit for Gomez, but they might be looking to shake things up since they've played so poorly since the All-Star break. The Cardinals and Mets had previously been mentioned as having interest in Gomez, but it appears those two clubs have moved on ... Steven Wright (shoulder) will not rejoin the Red Sox' rotation on Tuesday as initially hoped. Wright continues to feel better, but the decision has been made to have him throw another flat ground session this weekend rather than a bullpen session. It appears that Clay Buchholz will get another start in his place ... Rick Porcello racked up eight strikeouts over seven strong innings on Friday, defeating his former club to earn his 17th victory of the season. Porcello allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and a pair of walks in the ballgame. The only blemish on his evening was a two-run blast off the bat of J.D. Martinez in the second inning. Porcello has been every bit the ace that the Red Sox needed him to be, registering a 17-3 record, 3.22 ERA and 1.04 WHIP through 165 innings ... Jose Altuve went 3-for-5 with a homer and five RBI as the Astros clobbered the Orioles 15-8 in a wild game in Baltimore on Friday. His long ball was his 20th of the season, making him a 20/20 player for the first time in his career. He's having an MVP-caliber season, slashing an extremely impressive .365/.427/.579 with 20 homers, 80 RBI and 26 stolen bases ... Cole Hamels was brilliant in Saturday's victory over the Rays, piling up 10 strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball. The star southpaw scattered just three hits and a pair of walks on the night. He carried a bid for a shutout into the eighth inning until Steven Souza uncorked a solo homer. Hamels has been terrific atop the Rangers rotation, compiling a 13-4 record, 2.80 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 159/61 K/BB ratio over 160 2/3 innings ... Logan Forsythe said Friday that his back is feeling "not as good as expected." Forsythe was able to field some grounders in pre-game Friday, but apparently his back didn't respond as hoped. He'll visit with the Rays' team doctor and chiropractor Friday. The second baseman is day-to-day for now and he said there hasn't been any talk this point about going on the disabled list ... Kendall Graveman spun a two-hit shutout in a 9-0 victory over the White Sox on Friday. He struck out five and walked none in the victory. It was the first shutout of his career and his third complete game. And he needed just 98 pitches to go the distance, which qualifies as a "Maddux." There hasn’t been much to crow about for the Athletics recently — Friday’s win snapped a five-game losing streak — but Graveman has been on a nice roll for a while now. After getting off to a rough start this season, he owns a 3.47 ERA over his last 15 starts ... Adrian Beltre clobbered a pair of solo homers on Friday, powering the Rangers to a 6-2 victory over the Rays in Tampa Bay. Beltre finished the night 4-for-5. The veteran slugger is having another nice season at the dish, slashing .290/.342/.476 with 20 home runs and 75 RBI ... Trevor Bauer was handed a no-decision Friday against the Blue Jays after giving up two runs through eight innings with a career-high 13 strikeouts. His only mistake was a two-run homer by Russell Martin in the first inning. This was Bauer’s longest start since a complete-game victory against the Rays back on June 22. The 25-year-old now owns a 3.88 ERA and 128/55 K/BB ratio in 139 1/3 innings this season ... Matt Duffy (Achilles) returned to the Rays' lineup Friday. Duffy left Tuesday's game and sat out Wednesday after experiencing renewed soreness in his left Achilles. He finished 0-for-4 in Friday's loss to the Rangers. He's now 7-for-23 at the plate since joining the Rays ... Tyler Naquin delivered a walk-off inside-the-park home run in Friday’s 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays. Naquin didn’t start the game — as he entered as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning — but boy, did he find an exciting way to finish it. After Jose Ramirez tied things up against Roberto Osuna with a solo homer, Naquin hit a long drive to right field which deflected off the top of the right field fence and rolled into no-man’s land in right-center field. Melvin Upton, Jr. did his best to come up with the ball and make a throw, but Naquin was able to scamper around the bases without much of a challenge. The rookie outfielder has now played hero in back-to-back nights, as he had a walk-off sacrifice fly against the White Sox on Thursday ... Rays activated OF Oswaldo Arcia from the 15-day disabled list; designated him for assignment. The 25-year-old got off to a hot start after the Rays acquired him in a trade, but he wound up batting just .259/.328/.444 over 61 plate appearances. Arcia will get another shot somewhere, but the former top prospect has certainly been a bust after a promising start to his career.