Cloud of suspicion hovers over baseball

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NEW YORK — Chris Davis knows power surges lead to suspicion in the 21st century. The debate has even trickled down to clubhouse banter.

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The American League's Chris Davis singles during the fourth inning of the All-Star Game. He went 1 for 3 in Tuesday night's game and had 37 homers before the break.  FRANK FRANKLIN II/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FRANK FRANKLIN II/ASSOCIATED PRESS
The American League's Chris Davis singles during the fourth inning of the All-Star Game. He went 1 for 3 in Tuesday night's game and had 37 homers before the break.

"We always joke about it – how many home runs did you hit today?" the Baltimore Orioles slugger recounted.

"You hit two – well, you better be hydrated tomorrow."

As in, make sure you drink enough fluids to produce a urine sample for a drug test.

It's hard talk about MVPs these days without discussing PEDs.

Davis leads the major leagues with 37 home runs, matching Reggie Jackson in 1969 for most by an American League player at the All-Star break. He was among a record 39 first-time All-Stars as baseball paused for its midsummer celebration at Citi Field.

But up ahead, more suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs appear imminent. Union head Michael Weiner said before Tuesday’s game he expects Major League Baseball will complete its investigation within a month and speak with the players’ association to determine the mechanics of discipline, which would be subject to grievances and arbitration.

Last year, San Francisco outfielder Melky Cabrera was MVP of the All-Star Game, then was suspended five weeks later for 50 games following a positive test for testosterone. Four All-Stars this year – San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera, Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon, Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz and Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta – have been linked in media reports to Biogenesis, the closed Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing PEDs.

Commissioner Bud Selig maintains he’s not concerned the showcase could be decided by a player who might be disciplined when his probe is concluded.

“Whatever happens, happens. Given our knowledge today, that’s not frustrating at all,” he said. “You play the hand you’re dealt with on that day, and you can't second guess two weeks or two months or three months later.”

Selig says players have complained to him that the vast majority who comply with the sport’s drug rules have been tarnished along with those who think they can get away with using banned performance-boosters.

“It is what it is. It’s the nature of the era right now,” Colorado outfielder Michael Cuddyer said. “Until we get the game totally clean, I’m sure there’s going to be black eyes and suspicions.”

Selig wants tougher penalties than the current system that has been in place since 2006 – 50-game bans for a first positive test, 100 games for a second and lifetime for a third.

“The integrity of the sport is in question because you pick up the paper and we’re no longer looking at the boxscore, we’re discussing the investigation and we’re wondering who,” agent Scott Boras said.

Players and owners agreed to a steroids ban in 2002 and have repeatedly strengthened the rules. Selig gets defensive over baseball’s drug program, saying “this sport is cleaner than it’s ever been."

But even players understand why there is distrust.

“It's a reap-what-you-sow type of thing,” said Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto.

UNION: DRUG BANS UNLIKELY IN 2013

NEW YORK — The baseball players’ association says any suspensions resulting from the sport’s latest drug investigation likely won’t be served until next year if the discipline is challenged before an arbitrator.

Union head Michael Weiner expects Major League Baseball will notify the union of its plans for penalties in the next month, and the association will maintain any discipline should not be announced until after a grievance hearing, and then only if arbitrator Fredric Horowitz upholds a ban.

“We’re going to have a discussion with them. That discussion will include whether or not names of suspended players will be announced publicly,” Weiner said Tuesday.

Former MVPs Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun are among the more than a dozen players under investigation for ties to Biogenesis, a closed anti-aging clinic in Florida linked with the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs. MLB officials have been interviewing players, who have been represented by the union and their own lawyers.

After MLB and the union decide how to process grievances, hearings will be scheduled before Horowitz — but not before September and possibly later. Each player is entitled to a separate hearing, and Weiner said the union wants Horowitz to hear all cases.

– Associated Press


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