BOSTON — Early Friday morning, Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon became the third player on a major league roster to be suspended 80 games for performance-enhancing drugs this season, which has brought up a debate among fans and players alike.
Plenty of media have called for stricter punishments, and Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander went on quite the rant with the same opinion. But some members of the Red Sox weren’t about to call out other players before Friday’s game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park.
“I really can’t say,” left fielder Brock Holt said when asked about Gordon and Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Chris Colabello’s suspensions. “I don’t really know those guys very well, so I hate to judge based on what’s come out, but it’s one of those things that we’re trying to clean up the game, and that’s part of it. You fail a drug test, you miss 80 games, and then it’s a season and then a life ban. But as far as passing any judgement, I can’t really do that right now.”
Even with the ever-increasing penalties, Red Sox manager John Farrell says he’s not amazed players keep taking chances. In professional sports, there’s a constant desire to be the best.
“No, personally I’m not because I think players are always looking to gain an edge, and how that edge is derived is going to be different for the individual,” Farrell said before Friday’s game. “The system that’s in place, obviously we support it, but it’s unfortunate that players find themselves in these situations.”
It’s interesting Farrell used that wording because it is unfortunate for everyone. There’s a constant pressure on the players to perform at the highest level. And for players who use PEDs for injuries, for example, the catch-22 in a player’s mind is to let your team down by sitting out, or take a chance and possibly let your team down by getting suspended.
And Holt is well aware that you’ll probably never get rid of players trying to take shortcuts.
“For me, being suspended 80 games is pretty harsh,” Holt said. “It would deter me from doing it, but that’s just me as a person. I think everyone’s going to have their different opinions, and it’s just some people choose to — it’s like this in anything you do. There’s going to be some people who do things the right way and there’s going to be people who do things the wrong way. It’s just one of those things you just kind of got to focus on what you believe is right, and everyone else kind of has their own opinion.”
It seems like an issue when you have three players suspended so early in the season, but when you remember pretty much everyone is being tested frequently — Farrell said he thinks his players have been tested close to 10 times already — three out of 750 doesn’t seem so bad.
“I think any time you have collective bargaining, there’s always going to be give-and-take along the way,” Farrell said. “What’s ultimately settled on, that remains to be seen. I think the biggest statement, though, is when players ask for penalties to be increased. That I think speaks clearly that there are many, many players that are doing it the right way.”
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Apr 22, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Brock Holt (12) drives in a run with a single during the third inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports