Tag: Jordan Norberto

francisco cervelli getty

Oh joy, we get to revel in PED names being named again


I assume there is a long German word that describes the simultaneous disgust at seeing PED users’ names revealed and the joy with which we get to shame them. It’s probably something like GreggDoyelSchenfruede or something like that:

I have a list. So do you, right? If you’re a baseball fan and you’re hearing that more names are about to be connected to Biogenesis, the cheatingest PED factory since BALCO, this is where you dig through your mental rolodex for the names of guys you’re sure are cheating.

Don’t worry, Doyel is no going to do so something as irresponsible as name names with no evidence. But he has promised to tell you later if they were on his list. Which, I assume was constructed with great scientific rigor.

What do I look for? I’ll tell you some day, when the list comes out and if any of my names are on there. I figure one of them will be at least. This stuff is easy, really. It’s simple to look at certain guys and just think, just know, “He’s not doing that legally.” Especially given what we know about the nature of baseball, just like the nature of sprinting and cycling. Certain things have never been possible before, and while breakthroughs and advances do happen, there are some ceilings that get cracked that just don’t seem plausible. Not legally plausible, anyway.

So true. I mean, when I look at the feats of Everth Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, Antonio Bastardo, Francisco Cervelli, Jordany Valdespin, Jesús Montero, César Puello, Sergio Escalona, Fernando Martínez, Fautino de los Santos and Jordan Norberto my first thought is “It’s so obvious. The things they have done are utterly IMPOSSIBLE! Let me go check my list, ah, yes. There they are.”

But I have spoken with Doyel online before and I do believe his anger and outrage at PED users is genuine. I just also happen to believe that he would do better, as would we all, if instead of channeling that anger and outrage into a parlor game of speculation, name-naming and player shaming, we actually thought about came up with some ideas about how and why guys cheat and whether trotting out lists of names for public ridicule and nothing more is the best way to go about it. George Mitchell did that several years ago. It hasn’t really worked out.

But I truly do hope that your list is correct, Gregg. It will truly mean something then.

A-Rod handed 211-game ban; eligible pending appeal

alex rodriguez getty

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was one of 13 Major League Baseball players who were suspended on Monday for receiving performance-enhancing drugs from a shuttered Miami wellness clinic, the league announced.

Rodriguez received a 211-game punishment from the league, which would be effective on Thursday and last through the end of the 2014 season. He is appealing the ban, the league said, and is eligible to play until an appeals verdict is rendered.

“I’m fighting for my life,” an emotional Rodriguez said at a press conference just after 6 p.m. “I have to defend myself. If I don’t defend myself, no one will.”

Rodriguez called the last seven months “a nightmare” and refused to admit he used performance enhancing drugs.

The bans to the other players linked with the Biogenesis clinic are effective immediately, which knocks out those players for virtually all of the remaining games this regular season. They would be eligible for the postseason, should their teams reach and the terms of their suspensions end.

“As a social institution with enormous social responsibilities, baseball must do everything it can to maintain integrity, fairness and a level playing field,” MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. “We are committed to working together with players to reiterate that performance-enhancing drugs will not be tolerated in our game.”

MORE: A-Rod’s suspension is crazy and should be reduced

Rodriguez said in a statement on Monday that he planned to fight his suspension through the appeals process.

“I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago tonight,” Rodriguez said. I want to thank my family, friends and fans who have stood by myself through all this.”

Rodriguez also spoke to the media in a pair of news conferences over the weekend. He declined to discuss the case in details, citing an ongoing investigation, but he seemed to hint that forces were conspiring to keep him from playing.

“There is more than one party that benefits from me not ever stepping on the field,” Rodriguez said Friday night. “It is not my teammates, it is not the Yankees fans. People have been trying to get creative trying to cancel my contract.”

The Yankees took the unusual step of distancing themselves from the league’s investigation of Rodriguez, saying that they agreed with the punishment but did not help the inquiry.

“The New York Yankees in no way instituted and/or assisted MLB in the direction of this investigation; or used the investigation as an attempt to avoid its responsibilities under a player contract; or did its medical staff fail to provide the appropriate standard of care to Alex Rodriguez,” the team’s statement said.

MLB Players Association head Michael Weiner agreed with the 50-game punishments but took issue with Rodriguez’s suspension, saying that Selig was not acting within his rights under the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and union.

“Mr. Rodriguez knows that the Union, consistent with its history, will defend his rights vigorously,” Weiner said.

MORE: MLBPA believes Selig acted improperly

Rodriguez’s attorney David Cornwell, echoed the union’s sentiment.

“It is regrettable that the Commissioner’s office has taken this unprecedented action,” Cornwell said in a statement. “Major League Baseball has gone well beyond the authority granted to its Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement. Consequently, we will appeal the discipline and pursue all legal remedies available to Alex.”

The full list of suspended players is: Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers; Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres; Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers; Francisco Cervelli, New York Yankees; Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners; Jordany Valdespin, New York Mets; Sergio Escalona, Houston Astros; Fautino De Los Santos, San Diego Padres; Cesar Puello, New York Mets; Fernando Martinez, New York Yankees; Antonio Bastardo, Philadelphia Phillies; Jordan Norberto, free agent.

MORE: Several Biogenesis players are stunningly equally ashamed of themselves

Cruz, who is a free agent after this season, said in a statement that he began using PEDs to recover from illness that caused him to lose 40 lbs before the 2012 season. Concerned that he would not recover quickly enough, he said he began doping.

“Faced with this situation, I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error,” he said. “I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse.”

A’s pitcher Bartolo Colon, Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal also were connected to the clinic by several reports, but all three were suspended for positive tests over the past year — which reportedly overlaps with MLB’s Biogenesis records — so another suspension would be considered double jeopardy. Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game ban last month for his involvement with the clinic.

Selig lauded the success of the league’s drug policy, which succeeded despite only one known positive test: Braun was caught for a PED violation before the 2012 season but won his case on appeal. Players suspended Monday were done so for non-analytical positives, which occur when the league has evidence of a player’s use despite not having a positive test.

In this case, the league received cooperation from Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch, who agreed to cooperate and share evidence in exchange for the league’s dropping a lawsuit against him, indemnifying him against further damages and paying some, or all, of his legal fees according to ESPN. MLB had no comment about its involvement with Bosch.

MORE: MLB statement on the Biogenesis suspensions

“This case resoundingly illustrates that the strength of our Program is not limited only to testing,” Selig said. “We continue to attack this issue on every front – from science and research, to education and awareness, to fact-finding and investigative skills.

The allegations against Rodriguez and others were first revealed in late January, when the Miami New Times published a report that connected them to Bosch and his clinic. Bosch reportedly provided a group of MLB players with human growth hormone and steroids as early as December 2011. The New Times story, along with reports by Yahoo! Sports and ESPN, reportedly spurred MLB’s investigation.

“Despite the challenges this situation has created during a great season on the field, we pursued this matter because it was not only the right thing to do, but the only thing to do,” Selig said.

Bosch faces a federal inquiry into whether Biogenesis illegally distributed steroids to high school students and major leaguers, according to reports by ESPN and the Miami Herald. Bosch’s lawyer, Susy Ribero-Ayala, has not responded to messages left by NBC Sports.

The matter reportedly is being handled by Jeff Novitzky, the federal agent who directed investigations of BALCO, a clinic in the Bay Area that was found to have distributed steroids to athletes.

Rodriguez, 38, is fifth on MLB’s career home run list, with 647 spread over two decades with three teams. Barry Bonds holds the record, with 762, but many fans believe that mark to be illegitimate because of Bonds’ tie to BALCO.

Rodriguez admitted in 2009 that he used steroids for three years, from 2001-03, while he was a member of the Texas Rangers. His name also appeared on a list of 104 players who tested positive for PEDs in a 2003 MLB survey, according to a report by Sports Illustrated.

The survey, which was confidential, reportedly was done to measure the extent of baseball’s problem with performance-enhancing drugs, not to determine who was actually using them. So Rodriguez’s alleged positive test could not have resulted in punishment.

Rodriguez has yet to play this year after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left hip in January. His recovery efforts stalled in mid-July, when he strained his left quadriceps. Rodriguez claimed he was ready to return. The Yankees said he was not.

Rodriguez sought a second opinion from a New Jersey doctor, who examined an MRI of the slugger’s leg and proclaimed him fit both over the telephone and in a subsequent media blitz. The Yankees were displeased that Rodriguez sought a second opinion without informing them in writing first, according to ESPN.

Four Biogenesis minor leaguers to remain suspended into 2014

Fernando Martinez

Part of the rush to get the Biogenesis suspensions announced now was to allow major leaguers could finish their bans this year (and thus not appeal said bans). Things won’t go so smoothly for minor leaguers, though. Of the 13 players about to be suspended by Major League Baseball, four are not on 40-man rosters and will have to continue serving out their suspensions next year, a source familiar with the investigation told NBCSports.com’s Craig Calcaterra . Those four are:

Astros reliever Sergio Escalona
Yankees outfielder Fernando Martinez
Padres reliever Fautino De Los Santos
Free agent reliever Jordan Norberto

Jesus Montero of the Mariners and Cesar Puello and Jordany Valdespin of the Mets are also currently in the minors, but since they’re on 40-man rosters, they’re treated as major leaguers, meaning all three will be allowed to finish out their suspensions this year.

There are currently about 28-29 minor league games remaining in the season. Any playoff games will also likely count towards the 50, but Escalona, Martinez and De Los Santos will be prevented from playing for the first weeks of 2014.

All four players have major league experience. Escalona, who has been hurt this year, had allowed 11 runs in 15 innings for Double-A Corpus Christi. Martinez, who is always hurt, was at .325/.394/.554 with four homers in 83 at-bats for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after signing on with the Yankees in June. De Los Santos did his best work for the A’s in 2011. He’s pitched just 2 1/3 innings in the Padres system this year.

It remains to be seen whether the league will give any special consideration to Norberto, who can’t actually serve his suspension while unemployed and who isn’t likely to receive much interest with the suspension hanging over his head. Norberto had a 2.77 ERA in 52 innings for the A’s last year before falling apart this spring and getting hurt. He was released earlier this year.


Update: Puello was incorrectly listed as being in with the group of minor leaguers. He’s a member of the Mets’ 40-man roster and will be allowed to complete his suspension this year.

De Los Santos’ status as a Padres minor leaguer has been corrected. He was released by the team earlier this season (and mistakenly listed as a free agent here), but he was re-signed to a minor league contract.

Jesus Montero’s future in doubt with 50-game ban

Jesus Montero

Two years ago, one could have looked at the group of the 14 suspensed Biogenesis players — Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera, Jesus Montero, Francisco Cervelli, Antonio Bastardo, Jordany Valdespin, Sergio Escalona, Fernando Martinez, Cesar Puello, Fautino De Los Santos and Jordan Norberto —  and concluded that, besides Braun, Montero had the most promising future of the group.

Now, the big Montero-for-Michael Pineda trade, which was shaping up as a winner for the Mariners a year ago, might be a dud all around. Pineda just had a setback in his return from shoulder surgery, and it doesn’t look like he’ll contribute for the Yankees this season. Montero showed some promise during his rookie season in 2012, hitting .260/.298/.386 with 15 homers and 62 RBI in 515 at-bats, but he was a total bust in the majors this year, hitting .208/.264/.327 with three homers in 101 at-bats, and the Mariners have given up on him as a catcher.

MLB has yet to make it clear how minor leaguers will serve their Biogenesis suspensions; there aren’t 50 games left in the minor league seasons, so those could linger into next year. Montero, though, is on the 40-man roster and will be suspended as a major leaguer, so he should be able to finish his suspension in September and enter 2014 with a clean slate. Still, nothing he’s done this year suggests that he should be in Seattle’s plans for Opening Day. Justin Smoak has taken a step forward and is likely to remain the team’s first baseman next year. Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez are free agents, so the DH spot will be open. The Mariners, though, don’t seem likely to reserve it for him. One imagines they’ll make an attempt to re-sign Morales. Perhaps it’d be better for Montero if they re-signed Michael Morse as a DH instead, since Morse could always shift back to the outfield if Montero emerges. That’s not an option with Morales.

Montero, though, is going to have to prove himself all over again, and that’s probably going to require some Triple-A time. He’s only used up one option year, so that’s not a problem. Since Montero doesn’t have anything going for him except his bat now, he’ll need to mash to earn another chance. He’ll be 24 next year, and if he doesn’t find his stroke then, many will start writing him off.


Update: A source told NBCSports.com’s Craig Calcaterra that Montero will, in fact, be able to finish out his suspension this year, since he is on the 40-man roster. Minor leaguers given 50-game bans will be forced to sit out the start of next year, since there are only 25-30 games left in the minor league seasons.

Three previously unknown Biogenesis players named, Gio Gonzalez cleared, 12 total accepting discpline

Jordany Valdespin

Lots of Biogenesis news has come out in the past few minutes. We have news of three new names in the Biogenesis scandal, a couple being cleared as well as more news of players agreeing not to appeal and to serve their suspensions.

The new names: The Mets’ Jordany Valdespin, the Phillies’ Antonio Bastardo and the Astros’ Sergio Escalona are all going to receive 50-game suspensions.

According to multiple reports, in addition to Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera, Francisco Cervelli, Jesus Montero, Cesar Puello, Fautino De Los Santos, Fernando Martinez and Jordan Norberto have all accepted 50-game suspensions. That’s 12 players plus Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez.

Cleared, either completely or in terms of new discipline: Bartolo Colon, Yasmani Grandal, and Melky Cabrera, all who will get no additional discipline over what they have already served (each received 50-game suspensions last season). Finally, there have been no violations found for Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals or Danny Valencia of the Orioles. Each were named in the original Miami New Times report about Biogenesis, but there was not much in the way of evidence against them in the actual Biogenesis documents.

Barring any new surprises, this should be the extent of the suspended players. And barring any last minute settlement between A-Rod and Major League Baseball, Rodriguez now stands alone as the sole player mounting an appeal.