Frank Thomas on Braun: Those tests dont lie

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Frank Thomas on Braun: Those tests dont lie

With the latest report that Ryan Brauns positive test for a banned substance was caused by medication hes taking for a private medical issue, it would seem like there might be a ray of hope that the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder is true to his word that he has never taken a performance-enhancing drug.However, one person still has his doubts.Frank Thomas.The bottom line is those tests dont lie. He tested positive for something, Thomas said in an interview Monday with Comcast SportsNet. If its something medical, its got to be something weve never heard of to spike the testosterone to that type of level.When Braun was tested during the playoffs, his testosterone levels were insanely high, the highest ever for anyone who has ever taken a test, twice the level of the highest test ever taken, a source told the New York Daily News.When it comes to drug testing, Thomas is a unique authority on the matter. The former White Sox slugger who hit 521 home runs in his 19-year career was a vocal advocate for testing during his playing days, especially at the height of the steroid era when he noticed smaller, lesser players suddenly explode -- both physically and numerically as their home run totals spiked to record heights.
It probably cost Thomas the 2000 American League MVP, an award he narrowly lost to Jason Giambi, who later admitted to taking steroids. Its a sensitive subject for Thomas, and now that Braun, who just won the 2011 National League MVP, has a PED-cloud hanging over him, Frank is not afraid to be frank in discussing the ramifications.Its messy. Its messy because he won the National League Most Valuable Player, and if the test results were made public a month before, he would have not won the National League MVP. So it becomes a messy situation, Thomas said. "Right now I know with a majority of voters, he probably wouldn't have won that MVP if they had known that information that he had flunked the drug test."Braun is facing a 50-game suspension. He is currently appealing the ruling through an arbitrator, but as far as anyone knows, out of a reported 13 attempts, no player has ever won an appeal following a positive drug test.At this point, I want to wait to hear what the problem is, Thomas said of Braun. As you know, I lost an MVP to Jason Giambi back in 2000, but I told people I lost a vote. I felt I was an MVP that year. I had better numbers, I led a team that year that was expected to finish last in the division (the Sox finished first). So some things you cant get back, and this year Braun beat out a fine centerfielder Matt Kemp in LA who almost had a triple crown year, so this is going to be a messy situation one way or another.Thomas commends the leagues current drug policy and the harsher penalties being handed out.These 50-game suspensions are some serious suspensions, he said.However, does that mean that everyone is clean?Thomas says no.I think where theres smoke, theres fire, Thomas said. Theres a lot of chemists out there that say they can beat the tests. When you throw this type of money around, and guys are making 20-25 million a year there are going to be some guys that will really take that chance because its a life-changing moment when you get a check for 25 million, so some guys will take that risk.Did Braun?We dont know the answer.But we know this: Thomas has questions.For more of Thomas' comments, tune in to Chicago Baseball Hot Stove Tuesday at 5 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.

Preview: White Sox­-Twins tonight on CSN+

Preview: White Sox­-Twins tonight on CSN+

The White Sox take on the Twins on Tuesday night, and you can catch all the action on CSN+. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.

Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight's starting pitching matchup: Jose Quintana (5-7, 3.04 ERA) vs. Kyle Gibson (0-5, 6.05 ERA).

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Chris Sale 'would like to see' Mark Buehrle retire in White Sox uniform

Chris Sale 'would like to see' Mark Buehrle retire in White Sox uniform

While Chris Sale doesn’t know if Mark Buehrle will pitch again, he’s certain about one thing — Buehrle should retire as a member of the White Sox.

His future plans still undeclared, the legendary pitcher made the rounds at U.S. Cellular Field this weekend to visit ex-teammates from two of the three clubs he played for during his 16-year career. Buehrle, who won a World Series title and 161 games and threw a perfect game and a no-hitter in 12 seasons with the White Sox, has yet to sign retirement papers. Whether or not Buehrle would pitch again was speculated upon often this spring even though he struggled down the stretch in 2015 and failed to eclipse 200 innings for only the second time in his career.

Were he to officially call it quits, Sale hopes Buerhle does it here.

“For me personally, I would like to see it,” Sale said. “When you think of Mark Buehrle, you think of him in a White Sox uniform, wearing the black jersey with the pinstripes on the bottom.

“I don’t think he could go out any other way. Especially it would be nice to see him in a White Sox hat when he goes to the Hall of Fame.”

Buehrle spent the first dozen years of his career with the White Sox before agreeing upon a four-year deal with the Miami Marlins in 2012. His stay in Miami lasted only one season before the club held a fire sale and dealt him and shortstop Jose Reyes among others to the Toronto Blue Jays. Buehrle played the last three seasons in Toronto and won 40 games. He won 15 games last season but finished four outs shy of a 15th straight 200-inning campaign.

Sale said he didn’t talk any business with Buehrle during their visit and doesn’t know if he still wants to pitch.

“It was definitely good to see him,” Sale said. “It gives you a little boost. Any time you see guys like that come back around, it’s always fun. He looks good. He looks like he could pitch again.

“We don’t talk about business when he comes around. It was good to see him and whatever unfolds, I think it will be fun regardless of what happens.”

Weekend provides much-needed rest for White Sox bullpen

Weekend provides much-needed rest for White Sox bullpen

A cold beer in hand and shower shoes on his feet, Zach Duke was the epitome of relaxation Sunday afternoon as he leaned back in his chair in the White Sox clubhouse.

A selfie of his feet with a tropical destination in the background is all that was missing.

The chance to relax isn’t wasted on Duke or his relief brethren. After a span in which they combined for 18 appearances in seven games, Duke, Nate Jones, Matt Albers and David Robertson received a weekend pass. While Robertson’s break was interrupted Sunday, the rest of the group is set for three consecutive days without an appearance.

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It’s a nice shot in the arm, if you will,” said Duke, who entered Sunday tied for the major-league lead with 39 appearances. “It’s good. To have a little rest time to get through this next stretch of games is big.

“I’m not sure what we’ll be doing (Monday). Maybe we’ll go out to the beach.”

Life has been anything but easy for the trusted members of the White Sox bullpen.

The workload of the bullpen recently included 30 innings in the eight games leading up to Sunday. While the bullpen’s innings pitched this season ranks low (they’re 21st among 30 teams), it’s the type of work they have been asked to perform that has begun to add up.

An inconsistent offense that has failed to put games away has the White Sox tied for the fourth-most one-run games in the majors (26). Of the 78 games played by the White Sox, 41 have been decided by two runs or fewer. The bullpen has the second-highest leverage index -- a statistic that measures how much pressure each pitcher faces -- in the majors.

Basically, only San Francisco Giants relievers face more tight situations than in baseball than the White Sox.

With that in mind, White Sox manager Robin Ventura prescribed mandatory rest for Jones, Albers, Duke and Robertson on Saturday.

“They need it,” Ventura said. “They need a break, it's that simple.”

What has magnified the team’s issues is the losses of Daniel Webb and Jake Petricka for the season and Zach Putnam, who is out indefinitely with elbow soreness and said to be weighing surgery as an option.

Last season, Putnam and Petricka combined for 100 2/3 innings. The season before it was 127 2/3 innings.

With those trusted arms down, Dan Jennings and rookies Chris Beck, Michael Ynoa and Matt Purke will likely have to consume big innings at times. The scenario arose on Saturday when the White Sox rallied after it appeared they had been blown out by the Toronto Blue Jays. Even though they trailed by as many as five runs twice, the White Sox found themselves down a run headed into the ninth inning. But with their veteran arms down, Ynoa was asked to work an inning and surrendered a pair of runs.

“It’s tough to watch those games,” said Robertson, who earned his 20th save in 22 tries on Sunday. “When we’ve thrown six or seven games out of eight days, you need a day because the chances of you going out there and hurting yourself are possible. And you’re looking at the longevity of this team and the arms we’ve got, you don’t want to lose any of your valuable pieces in one game when you might need them later on in September to make that push to get into the playoffs or even in the playoffs themselves. When you get those days off you have to take them, enjoy ‘em. It’s hard to watch those games because you feel like you should be in there. But it’s just part of baseball. Every now and then you need a day off.”

Chris Sale added another day of rest with his dominance in Sunday’s victory. He consumed eight of nine innings and held Toronto in check until he surrendered two solo homers in his last frame. Though the homers forced Jones to warm up, Sale recovered in time to get through the eighth. Two days after he pitched out of a bases-loaded jam, Robertson needed only 10 pitches to record his second save of the series.

But because Sale worked as late as he did, Duke didn’t have to lift a finger. He had a chance to relax and determine what he and his family might do Monday. “Hopefully,” Duke will get to the beach.

No matter what, he knows what he won’t do.

“There’s going to be no baseball involved,” Duke said.