Spring Headlines: Bud Selig calls for tougher PED penalties, Ichiro OK after car accident

While meeting with the media on Saturday, Commissioner Bud Selig announced that he’s pushing hard for Major League Baseball and the players’ association to come to terms on stricter punishments for performance-enhancing drug offenses, with an eye towards first and second time offenders.

Under the current system, first time offenders face a suspension of 50 games, second time offenders get 100 games and a third offense results in a lifetime ban. According to Selig, that scale hasn't done enough to deter players from taking their chances with PEDs, and the sooner they put more significant sanctions in place the better.

Here’s a snippet of the announcement courtesy of USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale:

"My view," Selig said, "is that it should be done as expeditiously as possible…. "We've made meaningful adjustments to our testing and now the time has come to make meaningful adjustments to our penalties. I feel very strongly about this.

"This is for the best interest of this sport, and everybody in it."

It seems one of the motivating factors behind Selig’s new push stems from Melky Cabrera’s 50-game suspension for testosterone and his connection to the the Biogenesis facility in South Florida. Selig basically feels that Cabrera, who inked a two-year, $16 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays during offseason, actually came out ahead, which doesn’t exactly send the message to players that MLB desires.

Selig didn’t go into any specific details about what he'd like to see implemented other than to say “I’d change everything.”

Well, that's a lot. Sounds like MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred and union chief Michael Weiner have some work to do as these discussions continue to play out in the coming weeks and months.

Jerry Dipoto responds to criticism: Another big story on Saturday revolved around the Los Angeles Angels' decision to renew Mike Trout's contract at $20,000 above the league minimum. That's right, Trout will only make $510,000 coming off his historic rookie season, and some people are not too pleased about it.

Namely, Trout's agent, Craig Landis.

Landis' comments didn't fall on deaf ears. Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto heard them, and he responded to them while speaking to the Orange County Register's Jeff Fletcher.

"Craig and Mike have a right to their opinion and we don't begrudge them their feelings," Dipoto said. "We love Mike. Mike's a big part of what we're doing here, obviously, now and hopefully for many years to come. But we're operating within the parameters of the (Collective Bargaining Agreement) as it's been set up. It's a system that rewards service time in the 0-to-3 years class, and we've opted to operate within those parameters."

"At some point you have to balance the scales between the 25 and one player," Dipoto said. "Mike understands that. He understands how the system is set up and he understands the benefits that come to him later."

Oh we're very sure Trout and Landis understand the benefits that should come to them later. Let's hope Dipoto fully understands them as well. They shall be significant.

Ichrio uninjured in car accident: Yikes. The last thing the New York Yankees need right now is an injury in their outfield, but obviously there are much bigger concerns when you hear a player has been involved in a car accident.

Thankfully, this one was relatively minor in nature, though it’s not yet certain if Ichiro will need to miss a game or two as a result.

Here's a little more from the New York Post's George King III:

Ichiro was headed south on a Tampa highway around 4 p.m. when he hit a woman making a left hand turn in front of him, according to Tampa police.

“He struck her,” Tampa Lt. Ronald McMullen told The Post. “She ended up hitting a third car, but there were no injuries.”

The female driver was cited for the accident.

There's also this funny note.

“The officer didn’t even know he played baseball,” McMullen said jokingly. “He said, ‘I know the Rays but the Yankees?’”

Well, it is Tampa after all, but still... really?

David Hernandez joins Team USA: Up until Friday, Arizona Diamondbacks reliever David Hernandez was on the roster of Team Mexico with every intention of playing for them when they opened up play in World Baseball Classic next weekend.

Change of plans! He’s now a member of Team USA.

Since they are no trades in the WBC, I think we're going to need a thorough explanation from Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi.

What happened? Well, Brad Ziegler — Hernandez’s teammate with the Diamondbacks — tweeted that Hernandez was informed Friday that he wouldn’t be able to pitch for Mexico because he was generationally too far removed from a Mexican-born ancestor. It seems Hernandez received that news at almost exactly the same time Perez was dropped from the U.S. roster.

Team Mexico is said to require a grandparent born in Mexico in order to compete for the national team. In Hernandez's case, only his great-grandparents were. The information came to light only recently, thus putting Hernandez back into the pool of eligible relievers for the U.S.

Of course a spot on the USA roster had to open up for Hernandez to join. That also happened on Friday when Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez was diagnosed with a strained shoulder, putting him on the shelf for 3-4 weeks. The timing obviously couldn’t have worked out any better, and it’s also interesting to note USA and Mexico will meet in the opening round of the tournament on Friday night.

Photo of the Day: With David Wright leaving for the World Baseball Classic, it seems the New York Mets have found a suitable replacement at the hot corner.

Or maybe not. That’s actually longtime Mets P.R. man Jay Horwitz donning the No. 5 uniform, and at the risk of incorrectly judging a book by its cover, we’re guessing he wouldn’t quite have the range Wright does over at third base.

The batting stance, though, looks pretty good. He can keep that.

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