- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NEW YORK — The person who collected Ryan Braun’s urine samples that tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone says he followed the collection program’s protocol.

Dino Laurenzi Jr. issued a statement Tuesday confirming he handled the sample submitted following a playoff game Oct. 1. He says he has been a collector for Comprehensive Drug Testing since 2005 and has taken more than 600 samples for Major League Baseball’s drug-testing program.

Braun’s 50-game suspension was overturned last week.

Laurenzi says he stored Braun’s sample in his basement in accordance with drug-collecting procedure because there was “no FedEx office located within 50 miles of Miller Park that would ship packages that day or Sunday.”

Braun, however, contends at least five FedEx locations within 5 miles were open until 9 p.m. and there also was a 24-hour location.

Laurenzi says protocol is to “safeguard” the samples at home until FedEx can ship the sample to the lab and that he didn’t tamper with the package.

ATHLETICS: Third baseman Scott Sizemore will miss the 2012 season after tearing a ligament in his left knee last weekend during Oakland’s first full-squad workout. Sizemore, 27, was injured Saturday at spring training camp in Phoenix. Sizemore was acquired last May in a trade with Detroit. He hit .249 with 11 home runs and 52 RBI in 93 games with the Athletics…. Right-hander Brandon McCarthy was named the opening-day starter. He was 9-9 with five complete games in 25 starts and had 123 strikeouts to just 25 walks in 1702/3 innings.

ASTROS: Brett Myers, Houston’s starting pitcher on opening day last season, will be the Astros’ closer this year. Meyers, 31, started 34 games last season and went 7-14 with a 4.46 ERA. Mark Melancon, who replaced the injured Brandon Lyon as the Astros’ closer last year, was traded to Boston in December.

YANKEES: Reliever Joba Chamberlain has thrown off a full mound for the first time in eight months after elbow ligament replacement surgery. THe right-hander made 16 throws during the session, Chamberlain went 2-0 with a 2.83 ERA in 27 relief appearances last season before surgery June 16. He is expected to rejoin the Yankees this season, possibly before the All-Star break.

TIGERS: Detroit outfielder Austin Jackson is making a change in his swing. Jackson said he is forcing himself to keep his front leg down after 181 strikeouts last season as a leadoff hitter. He came to camp early to work on his new swing and he’s getting positive reviews.

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