Yankees back A-Rod, efforts to clean game
As Biogenesis investigation continues, club awaits potential consequences
ARLINGTON -- The breaking news bulletins of Major League Baseball's suspension of the Brewers' Ryan Braun for performance-enhancing drug use quickly spread across the sports world on Monday, and perhaps no team had more reason to pay attention than the Yankees.
Several Yankees expressed the viewpoint that Braun's suspension represents proof that the league's program is working and those cheating the system are being caught. They also must now wonder if Braun represents just a first domino and if Alex Rodriguez is about to also be hit with a lengthy ban.
"I don't know what happened with Alex; he's my teammate, and I have to support him 100 percent," Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said. "We need to see where this goes. The good thing about this is we're cleaning the game. That's the way it should be. I think this is a message for whoever tries to do this again, that it's going to be caught. It's going to be caught."
Braun was suspended without pay, effective immediately, and will miss the Brewers' remaining 65 games of the season plus any potential postseason games. Rodriguez is attempting to return to the Majors following left hip surgery and a Grade 1 left quadriceps strain that was confirmed on Sunday.
Rodriguez and Braun are two of the most prominent names to be linked to the now-defunct Biogenesis anti-aging clinic, which had been operated by proprietor Anthony Bosch in Coral Gables, Fla. The business is believed by MLB investigators to have distributed performance-enhancing drugs to big league players.
"I don't know what people have done," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. "Obviously, you hear about it because we're answering questions about it. Every channel you turn on, they're talking about it, but only time will tell. It's kind of hard to address these situations if it hasn't been addressed by them."
"I'm shocked," said Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, who was a teammate of Braun's in 2008 with Milwaukee. "But people make mistakes every day, so he'll serve his time and hopefully continue a good career."
Both Braun and Rodriguez were interviewed by the league regarding the Biogenesis situation. Confronted with the evidence culled from MLB's lengthy investigation, Braun accepted his suspension even in the absence of a failed drug test, as what has been referred to as a "non-analytical positive."
In a statement released by MLB, Braun said that he "realize[s] now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions."
"It's not rocket science here," Rivera said. "Hey, if you did something and you admitted it, who am I to say something different, you know what I mean? I just want to make sure that the game is played clean and should be the way it is."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he is not privy to the details of how Braun's case might affect Rodriguez, but Girardi said he is fatigued of the PED discussion.
"I think I'm tired of steroids -- I'm tired of that," Girardi said. "Just do things the right way; bottom line. Everyone should do things the right way, but that's not the world we live in. You get tired of talking about it. There's a lot of guys that are doing it the right way, and I respect those guys."
In 2007, Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte was named in baseball's Mitchell Report and admitted to his own past use of Human Growth Hormone while trying to recover from a left elbow injury. He said that Braun's public acknowledgement can be an important step toward forgiveness.
"He made a mistake; you move forward," Pettitte said. "The biggest thing is to mean what you say and move forward with it. Obviously, he's a young player. He's got a long career ahead of him, hopefully, and you put this in the rearview mirror and don't do anything like this again."
Rodriguez had been expected to join the Yankees on Monday in Arlington, but the quadriceps strain pushed back his return date. Rodriguez is expected to report to the team's Tampa, Fla., training complex on Wednesday, awaiting further instructions.
The Yankees can petition MLB for a new Minor League rehab assignment, claiming that his quadriceps injury is a new one unrelated to his rehab from hip surgery, but there is more than baseball at play: Rodriguez's situation figures to have grown ever murkier following Braun's suspension on Monday.
Pettitte said that if and when Rodriguez returns to the big league clubhouse, he will receive support from his Yankees teammates.
"We're going to back him up," Pettitte said. "We're his teammates, there's no doubt. But if he did something wrong, you have to be punished for it. But I'll still back him up. I'm still going to love him because I built the relationship with him. He's a teammate of mine. You just wish nothing but the best for him."
Rivera echoed similar thoughts, saying that the Yankees must stick together as a team, regardless of past transgressions.
"I mean, I have to support him," Rivera added. "He's my teammate. He's my brother. Definitely, I [can't] say if he did or didn't do it. If it happens, I can't throw him in the street, you know? He's still my brother."