Selig: 'Change everything' with PED penalties
MAR 02, 2013 3:01p ET
Union officials, however, say they will respond to the players’ desires once a consensus is reached. The biggest question at the moment is whether the players will even agree to more meaningful penalties, and to what extent.
Union leadership currently is canvassing players at spring-training sites in Florida and Arizona. The consensus thus far is unclear, according to one union official. Some players favor more rigid penalties and others do not.
One idea under discussion — and supported by many players, according to the union official — is an enhanced penalty for intentional violators and a reduced one for negligent violators.
Colorado outfielder Michael Cuddyer, among many others, is in favor of reform. Cuddyer recently told the Denver Post that he was in favor of a one-year ban for players on a first positive test and a lifetime ban for a second positive.
"I think, 100 percent, guys would be for it. I can't speak for everybody, but listening to certain guys' comments and talking to certain guys, I think guys would be all for stiffer penalties. That's a full year's pay and then you can never play again. If that's not a deterrent, I don't know what is," Cuddyer said.
Selig said recent events, including Melky Cabrera’s 50-game suspension last season and the recent developments related to a clinic in South Florida have "driven my intensity.” Several major leaguers have been connected to Biogenics of America, a clinic in Miami that is alleged to have supplied them with performance-enhancing drugs.
"We have made meaningful adjustments to our testing," Selig said. "It is time to make meaningful adjustments to our penalties. Apparently the penalties haven’t deterred some people."
Cabrera, who was leading the National League in batting average when he was suspended Aug. 15 and would have qualified for the batting title, was barred from receiving the award last year. Bartolo Colon, Freddy Galvis and Marlon Byrd also were suspended for 50 games, and Guillermo Mota was suspended for 100 games. Cabrera and Colon both were given sizable contracts for this season after serving their suspensions, Cabrera signing with Toronto and Colon with Oakland.
Former Yankees manager Joe Torre, who will manage Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, said he believed harsher penalties would play well with players and fans.
"We have to make sure we keep the game here," Torre said, raising his right hand above his head to indicate a higher standard.
"I think everybody involved is certainly concerned about the welfare of the game. What struck me, and always has, was the fact that once you started making significant inroads" in drug testing, "you realize there are still those people sitting in the stands when somebody hits a home run and poke each other and say, 'I wonder if he’s on that.'
"I think the players would certainly like to have that cleared up, because it is easy to paint them all with the same brush. You have players who have conducted themselves proudly ... it’s just not fair to the major part of Major League Baseball to have players have to be questioned, even in people’s minds. Until we can gain back the total respect of the fans and have them trust us again, we have work to do."
Former manager Tony La Russa, who managed three World Series teams, joined the commissioner’s office last year and said he has spoken with many players on the subject.
"From what happened last year, the players scratch their head and think these guys are clueless," La Russa said, referring to the failed drug tests.
"We’d already thought we got to the point where we thought the reward was not worth the risk. All of a sudden you have just a few that felt like it was. Without a doubt, people I’ve talked to say you have to make that risk so punishing that we can eliminate this."
(FOXSports.com's senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal contributed to this report.)