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Late this afternoon, Star Tribune Twins beat writer Joe Christensen tweeted, “#Twins min lg 1B Kennys Vargas (batting .322 for rookie-level Elizabethton) gets 50-game suspension, testing positive for Phentermine.”
First question in my mind was, “What is Phentermine?”
So, I went to the ever-popular and highly trustworthy, Wikipedia! Here is what I found there:
It is approved as an appetite suppressant to help reduce weight in obese patients when used short-term and combined with exercise, diet, and behavioral modification. It is typically prescribed for individuals who are at increased medical risk because of their weight and works by helping to release certain chemicals in the brain that control appetite
Generally, we think of the illegal substances as things that help make a player bigger and stronger. Kennys Vargas was suspended 50 games for trying to get smaller, for using a weight-loss substance. He is listed at 6-5 and 215 pounds, but that weight number is way low. In fact, the Twins have always been concerned about his weight. As JoshsThoughts tweeted to remind us yesterday, “As @LaVelleNeal pointed out a while ago, Vargas was told to limit his sugar intake.” In other words, the Twins have encouraged him to lose weight.
Phentermine is used for a limited period of time to speed weight loss in overweight people who are exercising and eating a low-calorie diet. In other words, it is a supplement to a good regimen of exercise and eating right.
One of my Twitter followers, who claimed to be a pharmacist, and I have no reason to question it, point out, “Phentermine works in the same way as amphetamines to speed metabolism. Can be an extremely dangerous drug.”
Minnesota sports fans, this is the same type of situation as the StarCaps/Williams Wall case from a few years ago that still has had no resolution.
It may not seem as serious as taking the steroids, but there are risks. Of course, there are risks and side effects to all medications.
But the biggest thing, it was and is illegal according to the rules of baseball, so the suspension is warranted. I asked someone in the Twins organization about what the players have access to so that they know what is OK to take or not. On the condition of anonymity, the person responded.
We have a list in the clubhouse of products that aren’t approved but may contain banned substances (take at your own risk supplements pretty much). And we have a list of what ingredients are banned. And we have a list of supplements that are approved by the NSF
- In other words, there is literature in every minor league clubhouse about what can and can’t be taken, and even what they need to look for on the label to see if it is OK to take. There are trainers and coaches that can answer questions if players do have questions about what can be taken. The person above also mentioned that “we also get a lot of education on supplements. So it’s silly for any player to get suspended.”
In other words, negligence simply is not an excuse. So, Vargas began his suspension last night, and he will miss the final 18 Elizabethton Twins games this year. He will also miss the first 31 games of next season, likely with the Beloit Snappers. Vargas is a decent prospect. He has great size and power, and is a switch-hitter. With a lineup full of prospects in Elizabethton, Vargas was their primary clean-up hitter. He will end the season hitting .322/.377/.489 with 11 doubles, six homers and 33 RBI in 174 at bats.
Vargas is not the first Twins player suspended for banned substances:
- Juan Rincon was suspended ten games early in baseball’s testing program.
- Anthony Swarzak was suspended for a “drug of abuse” in 2007. He was with New Britain at the time, and when he came back, he went to Ft. Myers for a few games before returning to the Rock Cats. The Twins stood by him and he has rewarded them, especially this season.
- 2005 supplemental first-round pick Henry Sanchez was suspended 50 games for a “drug of abuse.” He served his time and the Twins released him the day that the suspension ended in 2009.
- In 2010, Michael Harrington was suspended 50 games for a performance-enhancer. He was struggling with the Miracle when the suspension came down. He served the 50 games. When he came back, he was sent back to Beloit and then released at the end of last season.
- Several players from the Twins Dominican Summer League team have been suspended over the last few years.
It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out for Kennys Vargas when his suspension is complete next season. I think he is enough of a prospect that he will remain in the organization.
MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
- Rochester 1, Durham 6 – Liam Hendriks had another rough start. He gave up five runs in the first two innings. He ended up giving up six runs on seven hits and a walk in five innings. Chuck James then struck out two in three scoreless innings. The Red Wins managed just six hits. Michael Holliman and Brandon Roberts each hit a double. Dustin Martin his his 13th home run of the season.
- New Britain 6, Altoona 5 – Blake Martin started and gave up three runs on six hits in five innings. He walked four and struck out five. Deolis Guerra walked two and struck out two in two scoreless innings. Tyler Robertson picked up his 13th save despite giving up two runs on two hits and a walk in two innings. Evan Bigley went 2-4 with his 27th double and three RBI. Deibinson Romero went 2-4 with his 21st double. Mark Dolenc was 2-4 with his triple.
- Game 1 – Ft. Myers 6, Bradenton 5 – In the first of two games, BJ Hermsen made his Florida State League debut. He gave up five runs (4 earned) on seven hits and two walks in 4.2 innings. He struck out four. Threw the first four innings, he gave up just one run. Ricky Bowen came in and threw 2.1 scoreless innings. Josmil Pinto went 2-3 with his ninth double and first stolen base. Jhonatan Goncalves went 1-1 with two walks.
- Game 2 – Ft. Myers 0, Bradenton 0 (suspended in 4th) – This game was rained out and will not be continued. Aaron Hicks did hit his fourth triple. 2011 pick Matthew Tomshawn threw 3.2 hitless, scoreless innings. He walked one and struck out four.
- Beloit 6, Wisconsin 4 – The Snappers got a big win. They managed just four hits in the game, but they were able to score six runs in large part due to the ten walks they accumulated. Tobias Streich went 1-1 with three walks. Danny Santana went 1-3 with two walks. Ryan O’Rourke started and threw the first six innings. He gave up three runs (2 earned) on seven hits and a walk while striking out four. Nelvin Fuentes struck out three in two scoreless innings. Madison Boer recorded his first MWL save despite giving up one run on three hits in an inning. He struck out two.
- Elizabethton 4, Danville 0 – For the second straight game, the E-Twins shutout the Braves. Derek Christiansen started the game with six shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked two and struck out six. Steve Evans pitched a scoreless seventh. Matt Bashore made his first appearance since July 24 and gave up two hits in a scoreless inning. Matt Summers then struck out the side in the 9th. Eddie Rosario went 3-4 with his eighth and ninth doubles, and his 13th and 14thstolen base.
- Christensen has been remarkable. On July 20th, he gave up four runs in 1.2 innings. His next two relief appearances, he combined to throw four scoreless innings. He moved into the starting rotation and has thrown four shutout innings, five shutout innings and now six shutout innings in his three starts. In other words, he has now gone 19 innings without giving up a run.
- Game 1 – GCL Twins 4, GCL Orioles 3 – Philip Chapman went 3-3 with his tenth double and three RBI. Those were three of the team’s six hits. Hein Robb started and gave up three runs on five hits and two walks in three innings. Tyler Herr and Hung-yi Chen each threw two scoreless innings.
- Game 2 – GCL Twins 1, GCL Orioles 6 – Ricardo Arevalo started and gave up one run on one hit and two walks in 2.2 innings. He struck out three. Josue Montanez then worked 1.1 scoreless innings. Gonzalo Sanudo came in and gave up five runs (4 earned) on five hits and recorded just two outs. Mark Trau got the final four outs. The Twins had just two hits. Ray Chang went 1-2 with a walk in his first rehab appearance.
- Recent Transactions – Trevor Plouffe sent back to Rochester. Deinys Suarez promoted to New Britain. Logan Darnell promoted to New Britain. Reggie Williams was promoted back to Ft. Myers. Madison Boer promoted to Beloit. Marcus Limon promoted to Elizabethton.
- Disabled List – Shooter Hunt activated in Ft. Myers. Estarlin de Los Santos put on the Disabled List. Michael Gonzales placed on the DL for the Beloit Snappers while Kyle Knudson and Nate Roberts were activated. Garrett Jewell put on the disabled list for Elizabethton Twins, and AJ Pettersen was activated. Brad Stillings had his shoulder surgery on Thursday in Minneapolis.
- Twins Minor League Weekly from last night is chock full with information from the Twins minor league system from score updates, to transactions and much more.
- After posting his selections for Twins prospects 6-10 on Wednesday afternoon, LaVelle blogged his Top 5 Twins Prospects yesterday.
Any thoughts?? E-mail me, or leave some Comments.