MESA, Ariz.: John Mirabelli, the Indians' assistant general manager for scouting, has the thankless job of rooting out Dominican Republic teenagers bent on scamming the Tribe.
Last week three kids (all were 19 or under) failed drug tests and were banned from the Dominican Republic Summer League for 50 days. The suspension was academic, because the Indians cancelled the contracts of all three players.
""I have no sympathy for them,'' Mirabelli said this morning. ""They broke the law. They fraudulently misrepresented themselves.''
Kids in the Dominican look at baseball as a way out of poverty, and with the help of unethical buscones (technically trainers, but in reality agents), try to work the system, falsifying names and ages and building their bodies with steroids.
""The buscones develop the kids, but they also do bad things,'' Mirabelli said.
The bottom line for major-league teams trolling for future stars in the Dominican is to try and avoid giving bonuses to kids who abuse the system.
""I think this is always going to be out there,'' Mirabelli said. ""It's part of the culture there.''
The Indians are putting in place safeguards, like administering their own drug tests rather than waiting for the random tests given by Major League Baseball. The team also plans to institute DNA testing to help ensure that a signee is who he says he is.
But nothing is foolproof.
""You need help from the Dominican government,'' Mirabelli said. ""You need to register the buscones like agents do here.''