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We are now two weeks into the 2021 MLB season and one thing is already becoming very clear: It’s the Los Angeles Dodgers and then everyone else so far.

L.A. is once again a unanimous No. 1 in our Week 2 MLB Power Rankings — but then things start to get interesting with movement throughout our top 10, starting at the No. 2 spot.

Do our voters favor the San Diego Padres over the New York Yankees even with Fernando Tatis Jr. on the injured list? Which American League teams are hot on that pair’s heels? And what did our voters make of hot starts by the Cincinnati Reds, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels?

And at the bottom of our rankings, has anyone played poorly enough to move the Pittsburgh Pirates out of No. 30?

Here is what our expert panel decided based on what we’ve seen. We also asked ESPN MLB experts David Schoenfield, Bradford Doolittle, Joon Lee, Jesse Rogers and Alden Gonzalez to weigh in with one Week 2 observation for all 30 teams.

Previous rankings: Week 1 | Opening Day

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Record: 10-2
Previous ranking: 1

Trevor Bauer has been as advertised — with a 2.70 ERA, 29 strikeouts and five walks in his first 20 innings — and so have the Dodgers as a whole. They swept the Nationals over the weekend without both Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger in their lineup, a testament to their unmatched depth. When Betts returned earlier this week, he quipped: “We don’t really need me.” — Gonzalez

2. San Diego Padres

Record: 8-5
Previous ranking: 3

The Padres have 10 pitchers on the injured list, and yet they lead the majors in ERA. The face of their franchise, Fernando Tatis Jr., is recovering from a shoulder subluxation, but Jake Cronenworth is emerging as a star in his absence. Perhaps the most positive sign for the Padres (if one can be gleaned this early): As of Wednesday morning, Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers were batting a combined .341/.438/.634 in 96 plate appearances. — Gonzalez

3. New York Yankees

Record: 5-7
Previous ranking: 2

The success of the Yankees will likely rest on whether their rotation can step up. Jameson Taillon struggled in his second outing, going just 3⅔ innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and striking out three. Taillon, who is returning from his second Tommy John surgery, will need to show more for the Bronx Bombers to be a serious World Series contender. New York will also need more from Corey Kluber, who went just 2⅓ innings in his second start, allowing five runs, three earned. — Lee

Record: 6-6
Previous ranking: 5

When you’re in the middle of April, it’s amazing how quickly a fast start can turn into a shaky one. The Astros rolled over the A’s to begin the season, but have gradually been sliding back to .500, a slump that was low-lighted by getting tattooed at home in back-to-back games against former manager AJ Hinch and the rebuilding Tigers. Zack Greinke hasn’t been great so far and the Houston debut for Jake Odorizzi did not go well. While the Astros still have a cadre of young power arms, the veterans on the staff — Greinke, Odorizzi and Lance McCullers Jr. — need to be a source of consistent innings, in both quantity and quality. Otherwise, Dusty Baker will be scrambling to keep things covered. — Doolittle

Record: 5-7
Previous ranking: 4

At times, the Twins have looked like they may have their strongest team yet during their current run of success. However, there is a disconnect between their record and their underlying indicators that mostly can be traced to a 1-3 start in one-run games. Bad luck? Maybe. But there is no doubt the Twins’ offseason signing of high-leverage reliever Alex Colome has yet to pay dividends. Colome has blown two of his four save opportunities and has been tagged for seven runs (four earned) over his first 5⅓ innings. Over the first couple of weeks, Colome ranks dead last among MLB relievers in wins probability added (minus-0.9). — Doolittle

Record: 4-8
Previous ranking: 7

OK, they lost Sunday night on a bad call at home plate. Those things even out over a season … unless they don’t. Ronald Acuna Jr. continues to be one-man highlight reel. Just in the past few days we saw him beat out a routine grounder for a single, triple to right field and then score on a sac fly to second base. Most importantly, he has cut down on his strikeout rate and if that holds he’s going to hit a lot higher than .250 this season. — Schoenfield

Record: 6-6
Previous ranking: 12

While injuries to Eloy Jimenez and Tim Anderson certainly have not helped Chicago’s bid to build early momentum, some of Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa’s choices have raised eyebrows. The most curious has been the odd usage of rookie Andrew Vaughn, who seemed poised to inherit Jimenez’s everyday spot in left field until the slugger returns. Instead, Vaughn has played less than half the time and La Russa has hidden him against most righties, instead opting for offensive ciphers like Nick Williams, Leury Garcia and Billy Hamilton. — Doolittle

8. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 7-5
Previous ranking: 10

While the Angels wait on Shohei Ohtani‘s blister to heal enough for him to return to pitching, they’re enjoying his majestic power and blazing speed on offense. Through his first 11 games, Ohtani batted .364/.391.795 with four home runs and two triples, ranking in the top 2% of the league in barrel percentage. On Monday, he lined a 119 mph double. On Tuesday, he beat out a routine grounder by running 29.5 feet per second (30 feet per second is considered elite). — Gonzalez

Record: 5-3
Previous ranking: 6

Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker are off to a great start through two outings apiece with a 1.24 ERA and just two home runs allowed over 36.1 innings. The Mets haven’t needed a fifth starter yet, with Joey Lucchesi getting his first opportunity on Friday. The bats are struggling, but a positive early sign: Entering Wednesday the Mets are second in the majors in walk rate. This team will get on base and score runs. — Schoenfield

Record: 5-7
Previous ranking: 8

The defending American League champions stumbled out of the gate, with questions rising about the rotation. Starter Ryan Yarbrough has struggled, posting a 6.48 ERA through three starts. Rich Hill, Michael Wacha and Chris Archer — who just landed on the injured list with forearm tightness — will need to step up to fill the gaps left behind by the departures of Blake Snell and Charlie Morton. — Lee

Record: 6-6
Previous ranking: 9

While Toronto dropped series to the Rangers and Angels, the Jays still possess a positive run differential, which suggests the team is outperforming its win-loss record in the early part of the season. One of the biggest bright spots has been Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has posted a 1.89 ERA in three starts, allowing no runs in 6⅔ innings and striking out seven against the Yankees in his last start. — Lee

12. Boston Red Sox

Record: 9-3
Previous ranking: 21

Starting the season by getting swept certainly didn’t get Boston off to a strong start, but a hot streak by J.D. Martinez ignited the offense. Whether or not this team makes it to the postseason will be dependent on the rotation, which will need season-long strong performances from pitchers like Garrett Richards, who bounced back after an abysmal first start to go five innings, allowing two runs against the Orioles. — Lee

13. Cincinnati Reds

Record: 7-5
Previous ranking: 19

The Reds took their show on the road after a successful homestand to open the season and have maintained their slim lead in the NL Central. The offense came back to earth a little, but they still possess the highest team OPS in baseball. Newcomer Tyler Naquin continues to be the surprise driving force at the plate. — Rogers

Record: 6-6
Previous ranking: 11

Rotation? Pretty good so far. Bullpen? Doing its job. Offense? Off to a sluggish start. J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura and Didi Gregorius had combined for five walks and 44 strikeouts through Tuesday’s doubleheader loss to the Mets, leading to subpar on-base and home run numbers so far. — Schoenfield

Record: 7-5
Previous ranking: 16

The Brewers are showing signs they could be the cream of the crop in the division as they continue to pitch lights out with the twosome of Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes performing as advertised. A resurgent Travis Shaw is helping a just-good-enough-to-contend offense, while Christian Yelich is beginning to look like his old self. — Rogers

Record: 6-6
Previous ranking: 13

St. Louis might be the most confusing team in the division, showing some signs of being a playoff contender but then taking a step back — hence their .500-ish record. Normally known as a pitching franchise, the Cardinals’ team ERA is near the bottom of the league. — Rogers

Record: 6-5
Previous ranking: 17

Cleveland has allowed the fewest runs per game of any team, ranks third in strikeout percentage and has yielded the lowest average on balls in play. Shane Bieber looks every bit as dominant as he did en route to last season’s AL Cy Young Award and leads Cleveland’s young rotation. And Emmanuel Clase has returned from a season-long suspension last year to join James Karinchak in giving Terry Francona one of baseball’s nastiest one-two bullpen combinations. — Doolittle

Record: 5-7
Previous ranking: 18

Oakland looked brutal in the first weekend, getting outscored 35-9 against the Astros, but bounced back with a 3-3 week. Despite looking better, the team lost closer Trevor Rosenthal, who signed a one-year, $11 million contract this offseason, to thoracic outlet syndrome — he is expected to be out at least 12 weeks. — Lee

Record: 8-4
Previous ranking: 23

The Giants’ starting rotation had been carrying the load, and that was especially true for Kevin Gausman, the former No. 4 overall pick who might finally — at age 30 — be coming into his own. Despite getting roughed up by a surprisingly good Reds team on Tuesday, Gausman sports a 3.20 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP through his first three starts. The Giants’ starters entered Wednesday with MLB’s seventh-best ERA despite ranking 17th in strikeout percentage. — Gonzalez

Record: 5-7
Previous ranking: 14

The Cubs are reaching historic lows at the plate. Through 10 games, they had compiled the fewest hits in franchise history with just 49. After a round of good starts by recently acquired pitchers, both Zach Davies and Trevor Williams imploded in their most-recent outing. And the schedule has not been an especially tough one. That’s coming. — Rogers

Record: 3-6
Previous ranking: 15

The slow start is concerning, although they’re just getting back their full roster after the COVID-19 outbreak. The big issue at the moment: What happened to Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday? He had the second worst start of his career (five walks, three HRs), the lowest fastball velocity of his career and was seen rubbing his shoulder in the tunnel next to the dugout. — Schoenfield

Record: 6-4
Previous ranking: 20

It’s very early but the brand-name veterans the Royals picked up over the winter have mostly struggled out of the gate. Lefty Mike Minor has been decent over his first couple of starts and Wade Davis has been a strike-thrower out of the bullpen. But among the hitters, Carlos Santana started 5-for-33 with a lone homer and Andrew Benintendi went 7-for-35 without an extra-base hit. Nevertheless, the Royals have managed to remain around break-even in the win column by eking out just enough one-run wins. It’s not a terribly sustainable formula, so K.C. needs the proven players they added for stability to provide stability. — Doolittle

Record: 5-6
Previous ranking: 22

At some point during spring training, I wrote something along the lines of: “Don’t be surprised if Trevor Rogers has a better season than Sixto Sanchez.” With 16 strikeouts in 10 innings and a swing-and-miss rate that ranks in the 98th percentile, the early returns are promising. — Schoenfield

Record: 6-5
Previous ranking: 24

James Paxton will undergo season-ending elbow surgery, but the Mariners are sticking with a six-man rotation for now, with Nick Margevicius stepping into Paxton’s slot. Still, you have to think this means top pitching prospect Logan Gilbert will be up sooner rather than later — probably not in April, in order to conserve innings, but he has a chance to be the team’s best starter right now. — Schoenfield

Record: 4-8
Previous ranking: 25

Madison Bumgarner, owed $79 million from 2021 to 2024, has allowed 17 runs and has hit three batters in 13⅔ innings, even though his stuff has slightly ticked up from last year. In 55⅓ innings since signing with the D-backs, he sports a 7.64 ERA and has allowed 16 home runs. “I don’t know what to say,” Bumgarner said after allowing six runs to the A’s on Monday. He later added: “I feel like at any time things could start clicking.” If it doesn’t happen soon, the D-backs are in the type of trouble that extends beyond their 2021 hopes. — Gonzalez

Record: 6-6
Previous ranking: 27

You wouldn’t go so far as to say the Tigers have played well, but they have been lots of fun. The offense looks like it has one strength: hitting the long ball. Detroit has gotten multiple homers from offseason acquisitions Nomar Mazara, Wilson Ramos, Akil Baddoo and Renato Nunez. The pitching has mostly struggled but the entire franchise got a boost earlier this week when former top overall pick Casey Mize picked up his first big league win in dominant fashion, tossing seven scoreless frames against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. — Doolittle

Record: 5-7
Previous ranking: 28

The Rangers have alternated between being unable to pitch and hit en route to their current below-.500 mark. They’ve been much better on the mound in week 2 but in getting swept against the Padres over the weekend, they scored just four runs in three games — including being no-hit by San Diego’s Joe Musgrove. — Rogers

Record: 5-6
Previous ranking: 26

Baltimore started its season on a high note by sweeping Boston, but has struggled to do much since. Outfielder Cedric Mullins remains the team’s brightest spot, hitting .442/.510/.651 with two homers and two stolen bases through 11 games. — Lee

Record: 3-9
Previous ranking: 29

Antonio Senzatela has allowed 12 runs (11 earned) in six innings against the Dodgers this season and has a 7.08 ERA in 48⅓ innings against them for his career. His response to those struggles? “I don’t know. It’s the Dodgers.” He can probably speak for the whole team. — Gonzalez

30. Pittsburgh Pirates

Record: 5-7
Previous ranking: 30

With an injured Ke’Bryan Hayes, the Pirates are just not dangerous enough against good pitching to do much damage. The Pirates are in the bottom third in both pitching and hitting, which explains everything about their below-.500 record. — Rogers

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Inside the mysterious world of missing sports memorabilia



We’ve all misplaced something — car keys, wallets, a W-2 from last year.

But what about misplacing something worth millions that has incredible historical significance? Well, welcome to one of the stranger corners of the booming sports memorabilia market.

Whether it’s misfortune, the tide of time or just dumb luck, some of the most prized — ergo, valuable — sports memorabilia items of all time aren’t in halls of fame or museums. They’re missing.

Here are six holy-grail-level sports memorabilia items that are lost to history — for now — and what they would be worth today.

The chip shots seen around the world

Fifty years ago, Alan Shepard hit the two of the most-watched golf shots ever on the surface of the moon. The golf balls are still there. In February, Andy Saunders, an image specialist and author of an upcoming book Apollo Remastered, used still photographs taken by the astronauts on Feb. 6, 1971, and spotted the two balls. One is 40 yards away from where Shepard swung a makeshift 6-iron club that he sneaked onto Apollo 14 without NASA’s knowledge and the other is 24 yards away.

Shepard’s club is in the USGA Golf Museum. NASA officials were upset about the donation and actually tried to get the club back because officials believed that it technically wasn’t his property to give. Getting the balls back would be “the billionaire’s scavenger hunt,” said Bob Zafian of Golden Age Golf Auction.

Zafian estimates the Shepard club could go for $10 million and he believes the golf balls would start at a minimum bid of $10 million apiece.

“This is something that nobody else can have,” Zafian said. “Absolutely, without a doubt, the most expensive golf item that is in existence that possibly could be there for the taking if somebody picks it up.”

Where is Jackie Robinson’s first Dodgers jersey?

On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson made his MLB debut at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York. When Robinson stepped to the plate that day, he became the first Black player in MLB history, thus paving the way for decades to come. But the jersey he wore in front of 26,000-plus people is missing.

A jersey from later in Robinson’s rookie season was sold for $2.05 million at an auction in 2017.

Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage Auctions, said the missing jersey, if in decent condition and authenticated, would go for no less than $10 million.

“I think a good argument could be made that it’s the most significant … piece of sports memorabilia that could be offered,” Ivy told ESPN. “[You] can’t argue with the significance of the jersey that was on Jackie Robinson’s back when he literally broke the color barrier in baseball.”

Bobby Thomson’s ‘Shot Heard ‘Round the World’? Long gone

Bobby Thomson’s 1951 home run remains one of the most famous walk-offs in MLB history. His bat, glove and the cleats reside in Cooperstown, but arguably baseball’s most hallowed piece of rawhide went the way of Jimmy Hoffa.

Dozens of fans claimed to have the ball in the days after Thomson’s homer, and one even conned World Series tickets out of Thomson in exchange for what he thought was the actual ball. It wasn’t.

Years later, one ball was unearthed that was believed to be the Thomson home run ball before many experts ultimately decided it was unlikely to be the ball of note. Mike Heffner, a partner at Lelands sports auction house, has a history with Thomson’s ball.

“We scoured New York, ran a $1 million wanted ad,” Heffner said. “But say you had video footage, the person catching the ball, a sworn affidavit, the ball matched up? It could be a million-dollar ball, the way things are going.”

Leila Dunbar, the former director of collectables at Sotheby’s and an Antiques Roadshow mainstay, loves the history behind the ball. She hails Miracle Ball — a Brian Biegel book about his two-year manhunt for the Thomson home run ball, which his father once falsely claimed to own — as keeping interest and intrigue about the Thomson ball going. That includes an epic tale about a nun who allegedly had it at one time.

Dunbar dismissed the story.

“This nun played hooky, caught the ball and when she died? Her family put it in a box and dumped it off a highway,” Dunbar said of the absurdity.

Dunbar, though, said the ball still has value.

“I’m not sure it has the resonance to collectors as it did 10 years ago, [but] if the Buckner ball sells for almost half a million? This should sell for at least half a million.”

The Kirk Gibson home run ball? Also missing

In the bottom of the ninth in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Kirk Gibson looked more likely to collapse in the batter’s box than craft a timeless Los Angeles sports moment — especially against A’s closer Dennis Eckersley, who hadn’t allowed a home run since late August. Then, as Vin Scully famously crooned, The impossible has happened.

In 2018, Eckersley’s jersey from the game fetched a little more than $60,000. Gibson’s bat, jersey and helmet pulled in $1.03 million at auction in 2010. But where’s the ball? No one knows. The seat where it landed is known: Row D, Seat 88, Section 302. Gibson even signed it. A woman once sent Gibson a picture of her bruised leg where the home run supposedly had landed.

“It may never be [found],” Gibson told the New York Times in 2018. But if it were? “It’s a better piece than the Thomson [ball] for my generation,” said Heffner, who was a 20-something Dodgers fan in 1988. “Based on [the previous sale], that the market’s so hot, that people spending money in this industry are [from] L.A.? Could be a $2 million ball.”

Added Dunbar: “I could definitely see it selling for a million in today’s market because of what it represented. It didn’t win the series, but it changed the whole tenor, and [the Dodgers] were heavy underdogs.”

There’s one person sure to empty his bank accounts should it ever surface. At that 2010 auction, father-and-son sports collectible team Chad and Doug Dreier spent $1.19 million on various Gibson memorabilia, including his MVP Award and World Series trophy.

Though Chad Dreier died in late 2018 after a battle with cancer, the Dreier Collection, sold in 2011, included the Gibson items — except for the iconic ball.

‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson’s stolen confession hasn’t been found — if it ever even existed

The late Joshua Leland Evans, the founder of Lelands, famously offered multiple rewards for anyone who could procure the most infamous confession in sports: Shoeless Joe Jackson, admitting to taking money to throw the 1919 World Series.

“I don’t think it exists,” Heffner said. “But Josh, in the ’80s, put out a bounty for like $100,000 ahead of the release of Eight Men Out.”

In 2013, Evans upped the award to $1 million despite widespread doubt in the industry about the document.

“There’s a huge cloud of mystery behind it,” Dunbar said. “Many historians have said it doesn’t exist.”

Dramatized in Eight Men Out, Jackson testified in front of a grand jury, giving contradictory statements about his involvement with the 1919 Black Sox scandal. The transcript was included in a signed confession.

It soon vanished (rumor has it thanks to chicanery by Charles A. Comiskey and Arnold Rothstein) and the lack of concrete evidence was paramount to why the Black Sox weren’t found guilty of fraud in court. The confession, purportedly, only resurfaced to damage Jackson’s chances of returning to baseball. Then, the actual physical document disappeared again.

The problem is the confession story has run haywire, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. The transcripts of Jackson and pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams were stolen, but they were recreated with stenographers’ trial notes.

Detailed in the 1995 book The Fix Is In, Jackson recanted his testimony and claimed any confession was penned by his lawyer in the case, Alfred Austrian, also Comiskey’s lawyer, who somehow uncovered Jackson’s misplaced transcript years later to thwart his bid to return to baseball.

Jackson could never seem to keep his story straight. Sometimes, he was on record as having taken a $5,000 bribe (at the urging of White Sox brass). Sometimes, it was $10,000.

But he always maintained he never physically threw the Series or played less than his hardest, vehemently defending his “innocence” until his passing in 1951.

Jackson also said he was essentially illiterate, that he couldn’t have written anything. An authenticated signature from Jackson is among the rarest in sports history — he said his wife signed everything for him.

“Just his signature on a slip of paper is worth $50,000 to $100,000,” Heffner said, recalling the signed photo that went for $180,000 at an auction in 2015, the only known signed photo by Jackson in existence. “The confession would be one of the most valuable pieces in baseball history.”

“If it exists,” Dunbar said. “Because of what it represents as a pivotal moment in baseball history, it could sell anywhere from a half a million to a million dollars.”

Or maybe more if the right buyer was found.

“If someone actually had that thing?” Heffner said. “My God, I would pay $3 million for it.”

The mystery of the Wilt Chamberlain 100-point ball

In April 2000, when Kerry Ryman sold Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point ball for more than $550,000 at an auction, it caused quite a stir. It was the world’s most expensive basketball and one of the loftiest sports tokens ever sold.

And then… the sale was nullified a month later over questions of authenticity.

Here are the facts: On March 2, 1962, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Chamberlain scored 100 of the Philadelphia Warriors’ 169 points in a win over the Knicks. After the game, Ryman, who was a teenager, stole a ball, dashed out of the arena, evaded a security guard and jumped a fence. Chamberlain watched it all happen and told a security guard to let him go.

But there’s debate about which ball Ryman grabbed. The game’s scorekeeper, longtime Warriors PR director Harvey Pollack, who scribbled the famous “100” sign that Chamberlain holds in the postgame photo, said that the ball of note was taken out of the game, given to Chamberlain, signed by Chamberlain and teammates, and displayed in the team’s offices.

If that’s the truth, though, the Warriors seem to have lost it in the move from Pennsylvania to San Francisco. No one appears to know what happened to one of the NBA’s most prized artifacts after the relocation.

Ryman’s ball was sold later that year for roughly $68,000. Lelands’ Evans, who passed away in December, remained resolute that it was the 100-point ball.

Dunbar, the manager of Chamberlain’s estate, tracked down Wilt’s shoes from that night, which sold for $52,000. A signed scorecard from that night fetched $215,000.

And if the ball ever reappears and is somehow able to be verified? It could be worth more than $500,000.

“Could be more, because of what it represents and the player,” Dunbar said. “No one’s broken the 100-point game record and I’m not sure anyone ever will.”

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Drew Robinson returns to baseball after losing eye in 2020 suicide attempt, goes hitless for San Francisco Giants’ Triple-A team



Drew Robinson returned to professional baseball on Thursday night, going hitless in his first game since surviving a suicide attempt and losing his right eye last year.

Playing right field and hitting eighth, Robinson struck out in each of his four at-bats for the Sacramento River Cats, the San Francisco Giants‘ Triple-A affiliate, who beat the Las Vegas Aviators, 8-1.

On an 88-degree night in Las Vegas, where Robinson was born and raised, the crowd acknowledged him with vociferous cheers, honoring the remarkable comeback from nearly losing his life to being one step shy of the major leagues.

Robinson’s family, friends, doctors and coaches were among his loudest supporters at Las Vegas Ballpark, where he had trained over the winter as he prepared to play again after the April 16, 2020 incident in which Robinson shot himself. He had earned a spot on the River Cats’ roster with improved play toward the end of minor league spring camp, including the same raw power he exhibited in his 100 major league games.

Something else he did plenty of in the big leagues: strike out. Robinson’s 0-for-4 day was frustrating, particularly on the night of his comeback, but swing-and-miss was part of his game long before Thursday.

The at-bats were plenty competitive, as Robinson worked 21 pitches over the four and did not chase balls outside the strike zone. Still, frustration showed on his face, particularly after the last at-bat, when he flipped his bat to himself after waving through strike three.

Robinson’s night on offense ended on deck in the top of the ninth and on defense watching outs from right field. He admired where he was, his surroundings, the fact that he was even playing, and as much as his night at the plate frustrated him, it was the kind of night a year ago he couldn’t have even fathomed

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Colorado Rockies minor leaguer Colton Welker gets 80-game drug suspension



NEW YORK — Highly touted Colorado Rockies minor league third baseman Colton Welker was suspended 80 games by the commissioner’s office Thursday after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

The 23-year-old Welker, drafted in 2016 out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, is currently on the roster for Triple-A Albuquerque. His suspension goes into immediate effect and will be without pay.

The substance he tested positive for was Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (DHCMT), which is in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

In a statement, Welker said: “I want to make it very clear that I have never willingly nor intentionally ingested any substance to enhance my athletic performance. Given the information provided to me by the players’ association and laboratory, the amount detected was so minimal that it would have no effect on enhancing my performance.”

“I understand that a number of other players, like me, have tested positive for this metabolite at microscopic levels, and I intend to join them in seeking answers as to how this is happening in order to clear my name,” he said.

The Rockies said in a statement the organization was “disappointed” to announce the suspension and believes that “Colton will learn from this experience.”

Welker was in the running to take over at third for Nolan Arenado after the eight-time Gold Glove winner was traded to St. Louis in the offseason.

A fourth-round draft pick, Welker is a .313 career hitter at four minor league levels with 34 homers and 204 RBIs. He has played mostly third base but has some appearances at first.

This spring, Welker credited his success with a leaner look. He said he dropped about 10 pounds from the year before by cutting out carbs and mixing in more vegetables.

As a shortstop growing up, Welker helped lead Marjory Stoneman Douglas to the state title in 2016. It was a moment of immense pride for the community, which less than two years later was ravaged by the massacre of 17 students, teachers and staff at that same school. Welker routinely works out with Stoneman Douglas players in the offseason.

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