Jeff Passan

  • Exclusive: Tim Lincecum speaks publicly for first time since 2015

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 18 hrs ago

    For more than eight months, as the pain in his left hip faded and the old feeling he hadn’t felt in years returned, Tim Lincecum turned into more of an enigma than he’d ever been. General managers wondered how he looked. Scouts gossiped about how they’d heard from their best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend that they saw Lincecum at the 31 Flavors and his fastball wasn’t even hitting 85 mph. All the while, not a word from Lincecum. After years of confounding baseball as to how he coaxed such brilliance out of a body that looked incapable of harnessing it, now Lincecum was keeping them on edge with his silence.

    “Private is the way I live my life and have tried to,” Lincecum told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday in his first public comments since the 2015 season ended. “It helps me feel comfortable. It’s kind of like a scientist going to work on something in his garage and not unveiling it until he’s ready to. That’s kind of what it feels like.”

    It took time, but his son started to agree, and last week, working out at the back fields of the Giants’ minor league complex, Lincecum announced, rather unexpectedly, “I’m gonna do this. Five days from now.”

  • Tim Lincecum on his return, his struggles and mindset going forward

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 18 hrs ago

    “Private is the way I live my life and have tried to,” Lincecum told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday in his first public comments since the 2015 season ended. “It helps me feel comfortable. It’s kind of like a scientist going to work on something in his garage and not unveiling it until he’s ready to. That’s kind of what it feels like.”

    Finally, he’s ready. Tim Lincecum, version 2.5, is set to unveil himself in front of personnel from almost every major league team Friday at 2:30 p.m. local time at Scottsdale Stadium. His left hip, which Dr. Marc Philippon repaired by shaving down bone to allow greater range of motion and reattaching a partially torn labrum, feels normal when he lands and will allow him to comfortably take the extra-long stride that helped catapult him to two National League Cy Young awards. His arm, overtaxed last year because his delivery was out of whack, is throwing fastballs at 91 mph during bullpen sessions, and he expects another mile or two per hour from the adrenaline of in-game competition.

  • Sources: Baseball close to canceling Puerto Rico trip because of Zika concerns

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago

    The fear of Zika virus, palpable as ever in the aftermath of the Center for Disease Control report this week that linked a death in Puerto Rico to the mosquito-borne illness, is not scaring away all of baseball. It has, however, pushed the series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins, scheduled in San Juan on May 30-31, to the brink of cancellation, multiple sources familiar with the situation told Yahoo Sports.

    Players from the Pirates and Marlins banded together in recent days to let Major League Baseball know they want to move the two-game series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium to Miami instead, sources said, a view shared by some club officials and staff members as well. Despite the widespread implications – including a possible effect on league relations with Puerto Rico as well as opening a Pandora’s box for athletes leading up to the Summer Olympics in Brazil, another Zika-affected country – MLB is not expected to oppose the players’ choice, sources told Yahoo Sports.


  • Sources: Dodgers pitcher suspended 80 games for PEDs

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago

    Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Josh Ravin was suspended 80 games on Monday for using a banned substance, sources told Yahoo Sports, and is the sixth major leaguer to face discipline for performance-enhancing drugs this season.

    Ravin, who is on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster but has spent the year on the disabled list after breaking his non-throwing left arm in a car accident during spring training, tested positive for a banned peptide, according to sources.

    His suspension comes on the heels of 80-game bans for National League batting champion Dee Gordon and Toronto Blue Jays slugger Chris Colabello. Cleveland center fielder Abraham Almonte and Philadelphia reliever Daniel Stumpf were hit with 80-game suspensions before that, and New York Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia received a lifetime ban in February for a third positive test.

  • 10 Degrees: Is a juiced ball causing MLB's large home run spike?

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    I am far from the only one. It’s hitters and pitchers and coaches and executives and even rational, cogent analysts who cannot find a reasonable explanation for the spike in home runs dating back to last August. The HR/FB rate – the percentage of fly balls that end up over the fence – spiked over the season’s final two months, and it has continued this April.

    With 11.8 percent of fly balls leaving the yard in the season’s first month, it marked the highest April rate since the league started tracking the data in 2002. The number mirrored those of August (12.2 percent) and September (12.3 percent), which Hardball Times analyst Jon Roegele noticed after not even a month. Roegele studied it and came to an impasse.

    “I couldn't find anything to describe that amount of HR/offensive change, as far as weather, strike zone, where pitchers were pitching, etc.,” he wrote in an email this week. “I suspected that they changed something with the balls after the All-Star break last year as nothing else in the data could explain it.”

    The question, now, is why balls are coming off the bat so much harder now.

    Oh, come on, doc.

    Like a juiced ball!

  • The sad case of Dee Gordon, another unlikely PED user for MLB

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    There was a safeness about him, one furthered with a bright smile flashed liberally, though by now it should be evident that neither the pearliness of a man's teeth nor the composition of his body reveal what's inside of it. In the case of Gordon, it was two types of synthetic testosterone. Not even the safest bets are immune from the drug testing of Major League Baseball and the 80-game suspensions that accompany the ones that come up positive.

    PEDs turn people into whirling dervishes of morality, particularly in cases like Gordon's, where the money and the batting title and the fact that he drove in the game-tying run for the Miami Marlins about an hour before his suspension and the sterling reputation – No, not him, he seems like a good guy – coalesces into a big, bulbous ball of disappointment. Or sadness. Or however you care to phrase it when perception doesn't dovetail with reality and the disbelief can cause a blip on the Richter scale.

    How sad.

  • Miami's Dee Gordon suspended 80 games for PEDs

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    Defending National League batting champion Dee Gordon was suspended 80 games early Friday morning after he tested positive for two types of performance-enhancing drugs, Major League Baseball announced in disciplining the Miami Marlins’ second baseman.

    Gordon, a two-time All-Star who in the offseason signed a five-year, $50 million contract extension after hitting .333, was found to have taken exogenous Testosterone and Clostebol, a modified form of testosterone.

    The 28-year-old Gordon, one of the slightest players in the game at 5-foot-11 and 171 pounds, thrived in Miami after his trade there last season from Los Angeles and won a stolen base title in addition to his batting crown. Gordon, the son of former major league pitcher Tom Gordon, was hitting .267/.283/.344 with six stolen bases and his typically solid defense for the Marlins, who inched back to within a game of .500 on Thursday night.

  • How Jordan Zimmermann is helping make Strasburg and Harvey a ton of money

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago

    Jordan Zimmermann finally gave up a run Monday, the first he deigned to allow this season. His earned-run average skyrocketed to 0.35. No pitcher this century has finished April with a better mark. Zimmermann and the Detroit Tigers weren't the only ones celebrating.

    Across baseball, executives are watching the 29-year-old with a keen eye. He is just one player, just one arm, but Zimmermann is, in many ways, the standard bearer for the return from Tommy John surgery into the class of the ultra-rich. Zimmermann smashed the nine-figure threshold for ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction survivors this offseason when he signed a five-year, $110 million deal with the Tigers. And with Stephen Strasburg, Yu Darvish, Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez primed to hit free agency over the next three seasons, some teams' willingness to pony up big money will depend on the success of Zimmermann.

    It shouldn't be that simple, of course, a single arm, unique in every way, charting the course for a series of entirely disparate ones. Nobody ever accused baseball of being a particularly rational place, though, and the willingness to extrapolate one's success to others is not new.

  • 10 Degrees: Free from O's purgatory, Jake Arrieta flourishing with Cubs

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 10 days ago

    During their lowest moments, the four pitchers who were supposed to save the Baltimore Orioles looked at one another and asked a simple question: “What the [expletive] happened?” Zach Britton, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz had spent months “doming each other out mentally,” as Britton put it, “trying to fix each other” after the relationship with their pitching coach threatened to ruin their careers. And around came July 2, 2013, and the fourth of the Orioles’ great arms stuck in this baseball purgatory got his pardon.

    Long before he threw two no-hitters over a nine-start span and turned in one of the greatest stretches of pitching in baseball history, Chicago Cubs ace and reigning Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta was a failed Orioles prospect. Like Britton, Tillman and Matusz, he chafed under then-Baltimore pitching coach Rick Adair, whose pitching philosophy ran in direct contrast to those of the players.

    “With Dave and Dom, if Jake had the opportunity to work with them, I don’t see why he wouldn’t have done here what he’s done there,” Britton said. “The stuff was the guy who could throw two no-hitters. That didn’t just come out of nowhere.

    Perhaps there are things at which …

  • Biggest surprise of MLB season so far: Barry Bonds

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago

    Earlier this spring, when Barry Bonds and Jose Fernandez were engaged in their usual brand of verbal volleyball, the old man laid down a challenge to the young buck. One at-bat. Get me out, Bonds said, and Fernandez could take any one thing from his house. The confrontation never happened. Maybe some other time, they said. If it did, one observer there opined, chances are Fernandez would've gone home empty-handed.

    Let us remind: Jose Fernandez is one of the finest pitchers in the world, and Barry Bonds is a 51-year-old man. He is no ordinary 51-year-old man, of course. He is baseball's home run king, its greatest offensive player since Babe Ruth and its poster boy for steroid use. For nearly a decade, the conflation of the three also made him its chief pariah. And then, penance apparently paid, debt ostensibly forgiven, he was back, ready to be the best again.

    To see him now, then – from persona non grata to playing an integral role for a team full of good, young hitters – almost boggles the mind. Not just the fact that Bonds is the rare superstar to leave his millions for another day and embrace a workmanlike role. It's more how good he is at it.