BOSTON – David Ortiz’s name will probably always have a shadow over it when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Ever since it was leaked in 2009 that his name was on a list of 104 players who tested positive in 2003, he has lived under the specter of guilt.
The furor gained fuel over the weekend after Baltimore’s Nelson Cruz went 5-for-5 on July 5, a triple shy of the cycle, including going 3-for-3 against John Lackey with a single, double, and home run.
After the game, Lackey was asked his thoughts on Cruz’s performance.
"I'm not even going to comment on him. I've got nothing to say about him. There's things I would like to say but I'm not going to...You guys forget pretty conveniently about stuff."
Cruz was suspended for 50-games last August as part of the Biogenesis scandal, one of 13 players suspended for violating Major League Baseball’s drug agreement. He signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles as a free agent this offseason.
Cruz, who is hitting .294/.359/.591 in 88 games for Baltimore, went 8-for-15 (.533), with three doubles, a home run, and three RBI in the three-game series against the Red Sox.
After hearing Lackey’s comments Baltimore manager Buck Showalter defended his slugger.
“We need to all make sure we check our own backyard before we start looking at someone else's,” Showalter said.
Ortiz did not want to speak on the record on Tuesday afternoon, preferring to let the matter simmer down. He has maintained over the years, however, that he has never been told what the substance was for which his name was included on the 2003 list. It’s hard to prove yourself innocent when you don’t know what it is you’ve done, he has said. Ortiz is the only player for whom it has never been revealed what the offending substance was.
Ortiz did not take offense at Showalter’s comment, though. He believes it was simply an admonition that any player could be teammates with someone who has used or is currently using a banned substance.
But, Ortiz also maintains he has not received a “free pass” as was suggested on MLB Network by Joe Magrane. Ortiz said he has been tested more than 60 times since 2004, and eight times this season alone. Those tests have all come back clean, he insists.
Red Sox manager John Farrell supports that claim.
“The 2003 test, I think, that’s being referred to, I don’t know how many times David has been tested since then, whatever that number is I’m sure it’s a very high one. He’s tested clean every single time,” Farrell said. “It’s unfortunate that the innuendo continues to follow him. He’s a heck of a player, one hell of a hitter.
“And there’s no reason other than hard work and talent that’s produced that.”