SAN FRANCISCO - Baseball's ugly relationship with performance enhancing drugs is back in the forefront, complete with the uncertainty about the scope of an ongoing investigation and who it may affect.
Blue Jays players – those willing to discuss the matter publicly – know enough to say they don't know, while lamenting the broad stain that PEDs and their usage have left on the game.
"It's just a shame because it -- hasn't been a good two months for the Blue Jays -- but it has been a good two months for baseball," said veteran Mark DeRosa. "We haven't been answering these questions and then for it to all surface again and for it to be a big deal, it's a headache for the guys that do it right."
According to an ESPN report, Major League Baseball has secured the cooperation of Tony Bosch, the man who ran the now-defunct Biogenesis clinic out of Miami. The clinic, which claimed to specialize in the business of anti-aging, distributed performance enhancers to a handful of notable players.
Bosch, who kept written documentation of his company's transactions, will work with the league vetting the papers and will provide testimony. According to the report, the testimony could implicate some 20 players; maybe more.
Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun are alleged to be among them. Baseball is said to be considering 100-game suspensions for those two and others.
San Diego's Yasmani Grandal and the Blue Jays' Melky Cabrera had links to Biogenesis but served recent 50-game suspensions for PED use.
How Cabrera factors into all this isn't clear. He declined to discuss the matter, but the team did release a brief statement on Wednesday, saying "The Toronto Blue Jays will not comment on rumour and speculation. That said, we fully support Major League Baseball's efforts to eradicate performance enhancing substances from the game of baseball.
When Alex Anthopoulos addressed the Biogenesis matter in spring training, he said he'd spoken to league officials and was led to believe Cabrera's suspension last season constituted punishment served.
The question now is whether Major League Baseball has cultivated new, additional evidence off of which it could once again suspend Cabrera.
"You hope not," said DeRosa. "I don't know the ins and outs but he has served a suspension for the mistakes he has made. So I don't know if this will re-open the case according to him. But until the facts come out, until everything comes out, I think it's better off not to comment. Honestly, it's depressing to see it come to the surface again but at the same time, from my standpoint, if there are guys cheating the system was put in place and I'd like to see them penalized."
The league has kept Michael Weiner, executive director of the Major League Players' Association, in the loop as its investigation has progressed.
Weiner has said the players' union is committed to ridding the game of illegal substances but it will likely take umbrage if baseball attempts to suspend players on the testimony of Bosch and without a positive drug test.
It's a legitimate concern.
"Are we going to give away everything? No. Do we want the game cleaned up? Absolutely," said Jays closer Casey Janssen. "We've worked hard for our rights to get into a position of power. We want cheating out of the game, but to what level are we willing to bend? As a person who is clean and works for everything, you would like a level playing field but we have to be careful about giving up personal rights that have taken a long time for us to achieve."
Other players take a harder line. If one union member cheats to gain an advantage on another union member he should be punished, they say.
"I want the game cleaned up," said Mark Buehrle. "I know I have a voice in the union but I have tried to stay away from that. It's not really my thing. I think the majority of guys want the game cleaned up. The guys who are doing illegal stuff are probably going to be against it. I don't think there's any room for cheating. It hurts yourself, it hurts your team, it hurts your image. It's hurting everything. Get it out of here."
"I think it's a situation, with the stringent testing that we have and what we're forced to go through, I was in the league when there was no testing and now to see what you have to go through on a yearly basis, for you to try and undermine that system I think you should be penalized severely for it," said DeRosa.