Players turn their backs on Braun
Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun is getting no love from his peers after agreeing last week to a season-ending 65-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Although none of Braun's teammates have criticized Braun publicly, several reporters who have been around the Brewers clubhouse say privately players have expressed satisfaction with the suspension. And the rest of the league is equally angry with the former National League most valuable player.
"I'm glad he got caught," said Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer.
In the past, players have generally closed ranks — at least outwardly — behind those who tested positive for PEDs. For example Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon was welcomed back to the Athletics — and given a substantial raise — this season after being suspended during last summer's pennant race.
The reaction to Braun has been different. He reportedly accepted his penalty after being presented with overwhelming evidence of PED use uncovered during baseball's investigation of Biogenesis, the now-closed anti-aging clinic in South Florida whose director, Tony Bosch, worked with several big league players.
But two years ago, when Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone after winning the National League MVP award, he loudly proclaimed his innocence and asked teammates for support after the suspension was overturned on a technicality.
Now those same teammates — and others throughout the game — feel duped.
"I think it's absolutely despicable how he handled it," said Scherzer, who is one of the Tigers' representatives to the players union. "He went out of his way to try to bring people down and cover up his lies, and now he looks like Lance Armstrong.
"There's so much player outrage toward him because of how brash he was."
Players are also upset that Braun, who will forfeit about $3.85 million during his suspension, is still guaranteed $113 million over the rest of his contract. A growing number of players have called for drug cheats to have their contracts voided or limited to prevent them from cashing in on PED use.
Yankees in no hurry to see A-Rod return
Speaking of players generally loathed by their peers, Alex Rodriguez is likely to stay on the disabled list if the Yankees get their way. The team apparently expects that he'll be handed a lengthy suspension as a result of the Biogenesis probe.
Yankees third basemen are hitting a major league-worst .220/.280/.293, and the team hasn't gotten a home run from a right-handed hitter since June 25. Still, they pushed Rodriguez's return from the DL back at least 10 days, telling him he has a quadriceps strain even though A-Rod says he has no pain.
If Rodriguez is suspended without pay, the Yankees can deduct whatever portion of his salary A-Rod forfeits from their payroll. And if the suspension lasts into next season — baseball is reportedly mulling a lifetime ban — those savings could drop the team's bloated salary closer to the luxury-tax threshold of $189 million.
A-Rod has promised to appeal any sanctions, a process that could take at least 45 days, during which time he would be eligible to play.