ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Lehigh Valley IronPigs manager Dave Brundage didn't see Alec Asher's PED suspension coming, but had to admit that in this day and age, it wasn't exactly shocking, either.
Major League Baseball announced an 80-game ban for Asher on Thursday after the Phillies' pitching prospect tested positive for the anabolic steroid dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (see story). Brundage, who's managed the right-hander for parts of the last two seasons at Triple A, said he hadn't spoken to anybody about it and learned the news the same way everybody else did.
"I probably shouldn't comment because I don't know," Brundage said. "It's not my area. I just know I don't know the whole story. I don't know any of the story to tell you the truth. I'm as surprised as anybody."
While Brundage was taken aback by Asher's suspension, he also realizes this sort of thing has become part of the game.
"I guess you shouldn't be surprised nowadays, but anytime it's one of your guys as opposed to reading about somebody else's organization, there's disappointment," Brundage said.
Acquired in the Cole Hamels trade last July, Asher started seven games for the Phillies in 2015, posting an 0-6 record with a 9.31 ERA in seven starts. The 24-year-old returned to the minors armed with a new two-seam fastball this season, going 4-2 with a 2.30 ERA in eight starts between Double and Triple A before landing on the disabled list.
Nick Williams benched
Brundage also has his hands full with Nick Williams at the moment. While the Phillies' outfield prospect has been swinging the bat well, he's currently being taught a lesson in playing the game the right way.
Williams was held out of the lineup for a second game in a row on Thursday night after the 22-year-old failed to run out a fly ball that was dropped during an eventual 7-6 IronPigs victory. Brundage confirmed there's nothing wrong with Williams physically, other than, "He might be tired of standing next to me."
"He'll be fine," Brundage said. "He's just learning lessons along the way."
Despite the continuing punishment, Brundage is convinced Williams will get the message.
"I'll make sure he gets something out of it. That's why I'm having him stand next to me," Brundage said. "We get to talk the game a little bit and some different situations, where we're moving on certain counts and pitches, everything like that. It's not like I don't get to have that conversation, and I don't want to have that conversation anymore, but at the same time, he gets the gist of it."
Another piece from the Hamels deal, Williams is hitting .284 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs. The Texas native has been particularly strong at the plate since the weather started heating up, raising his average 30 points since May 22.
There are questions of maturity surrounding Williams, however, which makes teaching moments such as these all the more important. He could very well wind up being the next bat promoted to the Phillies, provided he takes this lesson about hustle to heart.