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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Carroll tests positive, suspended

Reds RHP prospect Scott Carroll tested positive for human chorionic gonadotropin, and will have to sit out the first 50 games of next year's season. Doug Gray broke the news. Here's what I posted in response:

This is a real shame. I have a lot of sympathy for the guys like this, as I can imagine the sort of temptations and pressures that lead them to this. Carroll’s not a top tier prospect, but he’s the sort of guy who could make it to and be successful in the majors if he’s able to develop like we think he can. If you make it to the majors, you get a paycheck and you realize your life’s ambition. If you don’t, you’ve “wasted” most of your life and are left with virtually nothing…

Doesn’t excuse it, and doesn’t make me tolerant of it…but it helps me understand how this kind of thing can happen.

Someone claiming to be Scott’s parents wrote me a few months ago and indicated that he was frustrated by the fanbase down in Sarasota. My reply was bounced back address unknown, so I don’t know if it was real or not. But assuming it was, I wonder if that frustration also was contributing to frustration in his progress through the system or something. We’ll never know.

As for the prospect of releasing him…I’m a liberal, so I believe in redemption. He needs to serve his time, and it will be a set-back for his career. But I see no reason to think that this can’t be a learning experience for him, and that he’ll be back on the field mid-next year looking to prove that he can do it legitimately.
Update:
Bumped up from the comments (er...comment), Doug brings news that there may be something else going on here:
Sounds like there is a bit more to the story than what was originally thought.

Interestingly enough, I read something posted by Scott’s brother on Redszone. Sounds like something fishy is going on. Apparently what he tested positive for is something you must inject, not something you could take in a pill/spray form. Scott says he has never injected anything like that and the Reds and himself actually got bloodwork done to refute his positive test. One scary thing is, testicular cancer has been linked to producing what he tested positive for. Apparently there is a history of that in his family and he is being checked for it.

It sounds like Scott and the Reds are on the same page that he didn’t take anything illegal and have tried to show their case. Apparently of the 60+ players suspended recently, over 50 of them tested positive for the exact same substance as Scott. That also comes off as very weird.

It will be interesting to see what comes of it all in the end.
The wikipedia article I linked above also mentions that hCG can be a tumor marker. As a biologist, I wish I knew more about this stuff...but I'm not an endocrine guy. I work on the evolution and neurophysiology of insect eyes. So I'm not going to be of much help.

Hopefully everything will check out health-wise for Scott...but if something like this can be medically demonstrated to be the cause of his positive test, I would think that the league would have to release Scott from this suspension. If Doug's quote is right and the majority of minor league suspensions have been for this particular marker--and they indicate something other than drug use--then MiLB may need to modify their testing parameters. I'd much rather err on the side of false negatives than have false positives messing up peoples' careers.

At the same time, if this test helps Scott catch a serious medical problem early, then there's something positive that can come out of this situation as well. We'll see what happens.