Braves' Fredi Gonzalez seeks education for Latinos
Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is calling for more education of young Latino players on the consequences of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Gonzalez also said Friday he would be in favor of stricter penalties - perhaps even a one-year ban - for those who are caught breaking the rules if the current trend of positive tests and suspensions continues.
Gonzalez said the positive tests for testosterone and ensuing 50-game suspensions for both San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera on Aug. 15 and Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon on Wednesday are ''bad for baseball.''
''What do you do next? I don't know if it's 100 games, I don't know if it's a year suspension,'' Gonzalez said before the second game of his team's four-game series against the NL West-leading Giants.
Gonzalez said he and the entire coaching staff all were tested during last weekend's home series against the Dodgers.
Every player receives a urine and blood test upon reporting to spring training, and all players are selected for additional urine tests on a randomly selected date. The latest labor deal says there will be an additional 1,400 random tests from 2012-16, including up to 200 during the 2012-13 offseason, 225 during the 2013-14 offseason and up to 250 for remaining offseasons. There is no limit for tests on a player in a calendar year - and additional urine and blood testing is allowed for reasonable cause.
''I think the system's working. I guess just being human, people push it,'' Gonzalez said. ''In every walk of life, whether you cheat on drugs, or on taxes, the stock market. We're human, we're trying to get an edge on anything. It's just a shame.''
The 48-year-old Gonzalez, a native of Cuba, is in his second season managing the Braves after four with the Marlins. He spent six years in the minor leagues as a player.
''I don't know what we're thinking as an industry, or what the players are thinking - or all of us, because we all get tested. I don't think we've gone five days without seeing somebody get tested, so they're testing. It's not like once a month. At home, they drag them off the field like every third day, fourth day.
''I think guys are rolling the dice and maybe the 50 games is not a deterrent enough. I'm not sure, because they came out and made this policy and they're testing and they're sticking to it and they're suspending people. And we still as an industry are trying to push.''
As of Friday, 82 players in all had been suspended in the minor league program and five in the major league joint drug program - three of those in the Bay Area. Gonzalez is concerned with the large number of Latin American players who have been suspended. He believes that more can be done by organizations that have Dominican and Venezuelan academies, and in other countries, too.
Of the minor league suspensions, 13 were of players in the Dominican Summer League and two more from the Venezuelan Summer League.
''Maybe that's where the education is,'' Gonzalez said. ''Maybe those kids don't even know what they're taking. ... And who's giving you stuff? The list that they gave us, there are some products in GNC that you can't take.''
Giants reliever Guillermo Mota is eligible to return from his 100-game suspension Tuesday, but manager Bruce Bochy said Friday the club hadn't made a decision on whether to bring him back right away. Bochy said he planned to speak with general manager Brian Sabean about it this weekend.