And those drug problems, once hoped to be washed away by the breadth and depth of a damning report from former Sen. George J. Mitchell six years ago, are still prevalent, stretching from the game’s greatest stars to minor leaguers clinging to jobs.
Rodriguez, 38, joined three 2013 all-stars — San Diego shortstop Everth Cabrera, Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz and Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta — in drawing suspensions Monday because of MLB’s investigation into Biogenesis, the Miami clinic that baseball officials say supplied illicit drugs to at least 18 players. Last month, the league suspended former National League most valuable player Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers for 65 games because of his ties to the clinic, and three other players have already completed 50-game suspensions because of their involvement with Biogenesis.
Rodriguez, who had missed the entire season following hip surgery, made his debut Monday night as the Yankees’ cleanup hitter in Chicago because he intends to fight his suspension, which was scheduled to begin Thursday. With an arbitrator’s decision not expected to come down until November at the earliest, Rodriguez will almost certainly play the rest of this season — delaying the 211-game penalty he was issued — while receiving his $28 million salary.
At a pregame news conference in Chicago, Rodriguez would not say whether he had used performance-enhancing drugs. “I’m sure there’s been some mistakes made along the way,” he said. “We’re here now. I’m a human being. . . . I’m fighting for my life. I have to defend myself. If I don’t defend myself, no one else will.”
Gio Gonzalez, the only Washington Nationals player whose name surfaced publicly in the Biogenesis investigation, was exonerated by MLB, which said it had no evidence that the left-hander was ever a client of the clinic. But the fallout of the suspensions was felt in every major league clubhouse.
“Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, those guys are unbelievable talents, and they were gonna be good baseball players anyway, and that’s unfortunate that they had to use those things for whatever reason they thought they had to use those things,” Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “But to have some closure and suspend and punish some guys that are that high up in this league shows that nobody is safe.”