And when 50-games suspensions were handed out to 12 players Monday afternoon — plus a suspension of New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez through the 2014 season — the Orioles avoided the stain of scandal.
“I don’t think anybody is naive, and you shouldn’t be,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I know talking to my players, it’s something they support fully. … It’s about trusting the game. I know it’s a lot more complicated than saying, ‘We’re going to go out and get everybody and we’re going to test everything.' I try to stay focused on how it affects my team and what have you. It hasn’t been a conversation in our clubhouse as far as affecting us.”
Even though no Orioles received suspensions, the discipline will impact the club’s playoff push over the next two months. The 12 players who accepted 50-game punishments will begin serving their suspensions immediately — including Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz and the Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta. The Orioles open a two-game interleague series Tuesday against the San Diego Padres, who will be without starting shortstop and National League stolen base leader Everth Cabrera.
“It’s a league issue. They’re handling that and we support the program,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said. “We support the support the joint agreement that was bargained by the player’s association and MLB.”
Orioles infielder and designated hitter Danny Valencia, whose name reportedly appeared on a list from the now-defunct Miami-area Biogenesis anti-aging clinic, was cleared of any involvement and did not receive a suspension. Neither did Washington Nationals left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez.
Valencia strongly denied any connection to Biogenesis when he arrived at spring training and reiterated that in June when news broke that suspensions would be coming.
"Basically, I've never had any contact with those people," Valencia said in February. "I've never met [Biogenesis founder] Tony Bosch, never seen him, never been to that clinic, never heard of that clinic until the [Miami] New Times story first broke. That being said, I've never ever taken a PED in my life, never failed a drug test in my life, and I never will."
Valencia, who was called up to provide a right-handed DH for Sunday’s game, will be optioned to Triple-A Norfolk today in an unrelated move in order for the Orioles to activate second baseman Brian Roberts from the paternity list. He was not available for comment.
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis said he’s tried to not think about the looming suspensions.
“Those guys made the decision for whatever reason, and now they have to live with the consequences,” Davis said. “We have too much at stake here, too much to focus on for me to dive into that. I think that’s one of the biggest things for me being successful the last couple years, is kind of getting away from the game once I leave the field and really focusing on small things that I can control. I can’t control what those guys have done. All I can control is what’s in front of us. We got a lot of work left to do.”
Davis, whose breakout season has provoked unsubstantiated accusations of PED use, has repeatedly denied he’s ever used them. But he said he understands why other players might not feel comfortable speaking out.
“It’s not an easy subject to talk about,” Davis said. “It’s a black eye in baseball, and for me, I never thought that would ever come up. It’s something, it never crossed my mind and the fact that it has, and the fact I’ve been so open, is good for not only for me, for the team. Kind of get the cat out of the bag, so to speak. You can’t control what people say. People don’t like you because you wear an Orioles uniform and they’re a Yankees fan or a Red Sox fan. It’s out of our control.”
Showalter said Monday’s suspensions make a statement that the game is taking additional measures to rid the game of PEDs by conducting independent investigations instead of just drug testing.
“They’re not going to just say that if you pass a urine test, you’re OK,” Showalter said. “I think that’s something that’s kind of sending a message. There’s a lot more than a urine test going. I think MLB has always been serious, but now I think there are things in place where there is full support from all parties. It’s more than just urine analysis.”
PLAYERS SUSPENDED (per MLB)
- Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Antonio Bastardo
- San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera
- New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli
- Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz
- Padres pitcher Fautino De Los Santos, who is currently on the roster of the Double-A San Antonio Missions of the Texas League
- Houston Astros pitcher Sergio Escalona, who is currently of the roster of the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks of the Texas League
- Yankees outfielder Fernando Martinez, who is currently on the roster of the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders of the International League
- Seattle Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, who is currently on the roster of the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League
- Free agent pitcher Jordan Norberto
- Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta
- New York Mets outfielder Cesar Puello, who is currently on the roster of the Double-A Binghamton Mets of the Eastern League; and
- Mets infielder/outfielder Jordany Valdespin, who is currently on the roster of the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League.
* In a separate news release, commissioner Bud Selig announced that Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees has been suspended without pay for the remainder of the 2013 season and postseason and the entire 2014 season for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and the Basic Agreement. Rodriguez’s suspension will be stayed until the completion of his appeal if Rodriguez files a grievance challenging his discipline.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun