By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: Commissioner Bud Selig slammed down the hammer on Alex Rodriguez and 11 other alleged PED users, who used the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic in Florida as a supplier for human growth hormone and testosterone, both banned by Major League Baseball.
Eight of the disciplined players are on big-league rosters, five are minor leaguers. All of the players except Rodriguez received 50-game suspensions and agreed not to appeal. That includes Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta (manager Jim Leyland refused to discuss it), whose place in the lineup has been filled by recently acquired Jose Iglesias.
Asked about the Rodriguez ruling — he was suspended for 211 games and vowed to appeal — Indians manager Terry Francona said: “I don’t know, I don’t know the facts. I was with him in 2002 and know what a hard worker he is.”
On the resolution of the Biogenesis case, Francona was more forthcoming.
“I watched it [the announcement of suspensions] in the coaches room,” he said Monday. “I played in Milwaukee; my dad played in Milwaukee, so I have an extra little connection to Mr. Selig [former Brewers owner].
“If you spend 30 seconds around him, whether you like him or not, you understand that he really cares about the game.”
Francona went so far as to contact Selig after the announcement.
“I left a message, and he called back,” the manager said. “He said this shouldn’t be regarded as a dark day for baseball but the beginning of the good stuff. Except he said it better than me.”
Francona has endorsed MLB’s efforts to eradicate the use of PEDs, and he understands that the process has not always been consistent or easy.
“Major League Baseball did something very difficult, but some things are difficult,” he said. “The idea is to get it right, and these people are trying to get it right.”
More than other team sports, baseball has been the focus of PED controversy.
“For whatever reason, when football does it [discipline players for using banned substances], it’s in the transactions,” Francona said. “I don’t know why.
“I want people to treat our game with respect. The majority of players are respectful of the game. The game is going to be here long after we’re gone. It’s such a special game.”
One of those players, Jason Giambi, was encouraged by the day’s events.
“Like I’ve said, we’ve been going in the right direction for a long time,” he said. “Human beings are going to make mistakes. But it shows that major league baseball’s doing everything it can to go in the right direction.”
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.