With the first games of Spring Training less than a week away, the Cincinnati Reds are focused on changing their fortunes, hoping for both health and on-field success in 2015. Former Reds Josh Hamilton and Wily Mo Pena, meanwhile, are dealing with changes of their own.
Hamilton, the star-crossed former AL MVP whom the Reds helped resurrect his career after early problems with drug and alcohol addiction met with Major League Baseball officials in New York yesterday, according to a report by Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times. Although the exact nature of those conversations were unclear, the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) were said to be expecting some sort of disciplinary action to result. Later, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted that the Hamilton had confessed to using at least one substance banned by MLB:
The Angels still owe Hamilton something north of $80 million on the five-year contract he signed before the 2013 season, so it would not be surprising if they try to recoup some of that commitment should Hamilton be suspended.
Pena, meanwhile, is the subject of happier news, even if it’s not quite what he was hoping for entering 2015. The 33-year-old veteran of the Major Leagues in both the United States and Japan agreed to a one-year deal with the Rakuten Eagles, according to Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors. Pena, who played for the Reds from 2002-05 built a reputation in the US as a powerful bat who was limited defensively and had trouble getting on base. He last played in America for the Seattle Mariners in 2011, and his productive season with the Orix Buffaloes (.255/.344/.486, 32 home runs) fueled speculation that he might catch on with a Big League club this Spring.
Neither Pena, nor Hamilton (especially) is where he wants to be heading into his mid-30s, but baseball has a way of building hope out of even the darkest moments. There is a decent chance that we will see either of these players, or both, back in the Major Leagues before all is said and done.
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