Dodgers react to MLB suspensions

ST. LOUIS -- As the Los Angeles Dodgers prepared for their game against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday night, the news of 13 players being suspended by Major League Baseball for using performance-enhancing drugs blasted on the television sets in the clubhouse.

While Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria called it a “sad day for MLB,” Dodgers pitcher and union representative Chris Capuano disagreed.

“I think it’s a good day,” Capuano said. “We have such a great testing system in place now. We have a good number of tests. The vast majority of guys in here are incredulous that guys would even try to get around it because we get tested so often and the tests are so sophisticated. I think this is a good day and the guys who are cheating and trying to gain an unfair advantage are being punished today."

Capuano remembers being in players' union meetings, where players would be resistant to change and afraid to speak out about performance-enhancing drugs. But that has changed.

“I think there’s a huge change in the way players view this,” Capuano said. “A lot of guys have been outspoken about wanting to clean up the game and wanting guys that are trying to cheat to get punished. Going forward this sends a message. Everyone wants to get this out of the game. We just want a level playing field. This is another good step in the right direction that sends a good message.

“Being in our union meetings over the last seven years from the whole start of the BALCO thing to today you noticed a change, from the resistance to wanting to agree to drug testing to a complete 180," he said. "It’s one thing to stand up for your fellow teammates and stand up for your fellow players and not throw people under the bus, but I think after a while guys were saying this isn’t right. Guys just want to do the right thing, and for their own careers they want to compete on a level playing field. There’s been a big change.”

Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis was watching the news on the clubhouse TVs as he dressed for Monday’s game, amazed that it was the only thing anyone wanted to talk about.

“I’m glad that it’s over with,” Ellis said. “It’s bad because that’s what they’re talking about in baseball. There’s a lot of good races going on and it’s on all the TVs here in the clubhouse. That’s the bad part but it’s good that we can finally move on from this. It’ll be good to move on and not talk about it again.”

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly hoped that Monday’s news would help clean up baseball’s problem with PEDs.

“Hopefully it’s a step towards getting better,” Mattingly said. “I’d like to see testing get really, really good where guys can’t get away with anything. They know they can’t get away with anything. It just protects the players from each other who are trying to compete; it protects the fans and the organizations. Hopefully the testing keeps getting better and the penalties keep getting stiffer and deter guys from trying.”

Mattingly, who was Alex Rodriguez’s hitting coach with the New York Yankees, was disappointed to see one of his former players involved in this scandal and suspended through next season.

“I like Alex,” Mattingly said. “It’s disappointing. I hate seeing anybody’s name involved with this. It was disappointing last year when I heard about Melky [Cabrera]. I love Melky as a player. It’s disappointing when you hear anybody’s name involved in this.

"Obviously the penalties aren’t enough because there are still guys doing it. When you start seeing eight-year deals and $15 million and $20 million per year deals, guys want that. The younger you are, you think, ‘Oh, it won’t hurt me. I’ll get away with it.’ It has to get tougher where guys aren’t going to do it anymore.”

Capuano thinks there will be a time when PEDs are no longer in baseball, but that there will always be players searching for that extra edge.

“There are always people that are going to lack the integrity and there are always people that are going to try to seek an advantage," Capuano said. "Every time this happens our testing gets more sophisticated. I just imagine our testing procedures will be getting better and better.”