Padres and Drugs in Major League Baseball

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Recently Jenrry Mejia of the New York Mets became the first Major League player to be suspended for life under MLB’s drug policy program. While this shows that MLB is not completely yet past it’s “doping” years that dominated the sport in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, it does show that the new program certainly has teeth and is not afraid to punish perpetrators.

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The Padres have a relatively checkered history when it comes to PED use. Ken Caminiti was adored by fans, but was unabashed about his use of steroids that helped him win the 1996 NL MVP Award in a 2002 interview with Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated:

"“It’s no secret what’s going on in baseball. At least half the guys are using steroids. They talk about it. They joke about it with each other. The guys who want to protect themselves or their image by lying have that right. Me? I’m at the point in my career where I’ve done just about every bad thing you can do. I try to walk with my head up. I don’t have to hold my tongue. I don’t want to hurt teammates or friends. But I’ve got nothing to hide.”"

That mindset has certainly changed over time, but also hasn’t completely stopped cheaters from thinking they can break the rules of MLB. Last year Padre minor league pitcher Travis Remillard tested positive and did not play last season. Former top pick Donavan Tate has also been suspended for his drug use.

Yasmani Grandal, who came from the Reds in the trade for Mat Latos, tested positive in 2012 for PED use. Interestingly enough, Edinson Volquez who was also part of that trade had been suspended for 50 games in 2010.

Everth Cabrera and Cameron Maybin were suspended in 2013 and 2014 respectively as well. Maybin as he was coming back from injury. Cabrera was suspended for his suspected involvment with BioGenesis but did not actually fail a drug test. Grandal  was already serving a suspension for being caught when BioGenesis came up but was not issued a “second strike” under the MLB Joint Drug Policy Agreement.

Some have argued that A.J. Preller is purposely ridding the Padres of players who were under PED suspicion. While that altruistic motive would be nice, I think Preller simply has a keen eye for talent and knows how really has it and who doesn’t.

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The sad thing about Mejia is that he is only 26 years old. We know he had talent, but clearly pride got in the way somewhere along the line when he continued to take banned substances despite repeatedly getting caught. Many have pointed to the fact that disproportionate number of suspendees are Latin American player who often are given “supplements” but due to the language barrier don’t know the exact ingredients and are taken advantage of. I do suspect this is true to a certain extent but also agree it isn’t MLB’s job to distinguish when this is true or not true.

Cheating is cheating, and baseball is better with more regulations to keep the game clean.

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