Looking at the potentially suspended Biogenesis players

76 Comments

Let’s run down the list of players connected to Tony Bosch’s Biogenesis clinic as MLB is reportedly preparing to issue 50- or 100-game suspensions. Listed below are players whose names are found in the Biogenesis documents. Other major leaguers may well be involved, as some of Bosch’s clients were listed in code. Since Bosch is set to cooperate with MLB in its investigation, this list could grow significantly longer soon. According to ESPN’s Outside the Lines, MLB is preparing to suspend players who purchased illegal substances from Bosch for 50 or 100 games, even if it means ruining the season in the process.

The Players

Alex Rodriguez (3B Yankees): Sidelined since Opening Day following offseason hip surgery, Rodriguez, who admitted to using steroids a decade ago but was never suspended, has been aiming to return to the Yankees lineup in July. Players suspended for steroid use while on the disabled list are able to serve those suspensions while injured, so if Rodriguez were to receive a 50-game ban in the near future, he could still return in August. A 100-game ban, on the other hand, would essentially end his season.

Ryan Braun (OF Brewers): Braun was originally set to be suspended for a positive PED test in Dec. 2011, only to have it wiped out on appeal. Of course, that was all supposed to go on behind closed doors, but it leaked to the media not long after Braun won NL MVP honors in 2011. This year, Braun is hitting .294 with nine homers for a disappointing Brewers team. He’s currently third in the outfield in the NL All-Star balloting, putting him in position for a spot in the starting lineup in the Midseason Classic.

Melky Cabrera (OF Blue Jays), Bartolo Colon (RHP Athletics) and Yasmani Grandal (C Padres): All three players here tested positive for steroids before MLB had any knowledge of Bosch’s operation and have already served 50-game suspensions. If MLB is going to try banning A-Rod and Braun for 100 games (50 games for cheating and 50 games for lying about it), then it could deliver additional 50-game suspensions to this trio. Still, that seems like quite a reach. These guys have already done their time.

Nelson Cruz (OF Rangers): The 32-year-old Cruz has a ton to lose here, since he’ll be a free agent at season’s end. His team would greatly suffer without him as well, and his absence could lead to Jurickson Profar being tried in the outfield. Cruz is batting .267 with 13 homers and 39 RBI this year, making him a candidate for AL All-Star honors.

Jhonny Peralta (SS Tigers): The Tigers might be the contender most adversely affected should these penalties come to pass; Peralta has been the AL’s top offensive shortstop this year, hitting .332 with six homers and 26 RBI, and the Tigers just don’t have any decent options to fill his shoes. Utilityman Ramon Santiago is long past his prime, and Danny Worth is injured in Triple-A. Like Cruz, Peralta is also a free agent this winter.

Everth Cabrera (SS Padres): Cabrera led the NL in stolen bases with 44 last year, but he was still a rather anonymous figure outside of San Diego. This year, he’s been getting more attention, thanks in part to some added power. He has four homers in 57 games after hitting two in 115 games in 2012, and his OPS has climbed by more than 100 points. He’s still a force on the basepaths, too, leading the majors with 23 steals.

Francisco Cervelli (C Yankees): One can imagine Cervelli, who played in 178 games as the Yankees’ primary backup catcher from 2009-11, was looking for something a little extra last year after being banished to the minors and thus turned to Bosch for help. Following Russell Martin’s departure, he won the starting job this spring and was off to an excellent start (.269/.377/.500, three homers in 52 at-bats) before going down with a fractured right hand. Barring a suspension, he’s due to rejoin the Yankees lineup in late June.

Jesus Montero (C-DH Mariners): A former Yankees prospect, Montero was dealt to the Mariners prior to 2012 and had a decent rookie season last year, hitting .260 with 15 homers. This year, he was a huge bust as a starting catcher, hitting .208 with three homers in 101 at-bats, and he was sent back to Triple-A late last month. Just 23, he’s still a promising hitter, but his future is at first base or DH. He’s currently on the minor league DL after tearing knee cartilage.

Fernando Martinez (OF Astros): Martinez was once one of the game’s very best prospects while in the Mets chain, but he’s never been able to stay healthy and he’s now a long shot to enjoy a lengthy major league career. After hitting .182 in 11 games for the Astros earlier this year, he was dropped from the roster and cleared waivers. He’s now back in Triple-A.

Fautino De Los Santos (RHP free agent): De Los Santos was a strong prospect in the White Sox system before undergoing Tommy John surgery and converting to relief. He looked like a fine bullpen arm as a rookie in 2011, striking out 43 batters in 33 1/3 innings for the A’s, but he showed up in 2012 which diminished stuff and has bounced around since. The Padres released him last month.

Jordan Norberto (LHP free agent): Norberto had a 2.77 ERA in 52 innings of relief work for the A’s last year, but he struggled this spring and got hurt. Oakland released him last month.

Cesar Puello (OF Mets): Puello, 22, has been a breakout performer in the Mets system this year, hitting .302/.382/.521 with eight homers and 15 steals for Double-A Binghamton. That slugging percentage is nearly 100 points higher than his previous career high.

Unlikely to be suspended

Gio Gonzalez (LHP Nationals): Gonzalez is believed to have been a Biogenesis buyer, but only of legal substances. Two sources told ESPN that Gonzalez is probably off the hook as far as any punishments go.

Robinson Cano (2B Yankees): Cano’s known connection with Biogenesis is very tenuous: the spokeswoman for his charitable foundation was named in Bosch’s documents. That was enough to get Cano on MLB’s watchlist, but if anything more significant has turned up, the league has kept it quiet.

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.