Dee Gordon’s suspension was another reminder of an issue that may never totally go away: performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
But this positive test flies in the face of at least one aspect of the PED narrative. Gordon, after all, is listed at 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds. He’s hit eight home runs in 495 major league games.
“It’s probably more of a surprise than the power guys,” New York Mets second baseman Neil Walker said. “It’s more surprising given his stature and his style of game.”
When people talk about PED use in baseball, the conversation usually turns to beefed-up sluggers hitting prodigious home runs. That’s the stereotype, at least. But the evidence suggests that positive tests can come from many different types of players.
There have been eight suspensions in 2016 under the Major League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, one more than in all of 2015. Before Gordon, the most high-profile players to be suspended over the past couple years were Ervin Santana and Jenrry Mejia — two pitchers. Mejia received a lifetime ban this year after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance for the third time.
Of the 13 players suspended in 2015 and 2016, seven have been pitchers — Santana, Mejia, Josh Ravin, Daniel Stumpf, Andrew McKirahan, Arodys Vizcaino and David Rollins. The six hitters included players of all shapes and sizes, including 6-foot-4 Chris Colabello of Toronto, 6-foot-7 Juan Duran of Cincinnati, 5-foot-9 Abraham Almonte of Cleveland — and now, Gordon.
Even back in 2013, when big names such as Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta were ensnared by the Biogenesis investigation, it wasn’t just power hitters who were punished. Anyone remember Fautino De Los Santos, Sergio Escalona and Jordany Valdespin? They were implicated, too.
The sluggers may get the headlines when a scandal like that unfolds, but it’s hard to pin all of baseball’s drug issues on them.
As for Walker, he’s satisfied with the progress the sport’s testing program is making.
“The system that’s in place is doing exactly what Major League Baseball and the players and the owners have hoped,” he said. “It’s catching the guys that aren’t following the system the right way.”
Here are a few other developments from around baseball:
HOW BAD? THIS BAD
Atlanta has managed only five home runs so far this season, and that anemic offensive showing is a big reason the Braves have the worst record in baseball. Atlanta’s team batting average is .226, with an on-base percentage of .299 and a slugging percentage of .287. For comparison, the infamous Mario Mendoza had a career slugging percentage of .262 — not far below what the Braves are slugging as a team right now.
HOW GOOD? THIS GOOD
Being around the bottom of the league in save opportunities is usually a bad thing because it means you haven’t had the lead much in the late innings. But the Chicago Cubs’ staff is only 4 of 5 in save chances this season — because of all of that team’s blowout victories.
Gordon’s suspension removes one of fantasy baseball’s top players. There’s simply no easy way for his owners to replace all of the stolen bases and runs they were counting on from him.
In the meantime, Derek Dietrich has been filling in at second base. Dietrich is not the same type of player as Gordon, but he can provide some pop if he’s getting regular at-bats.
LINE OF THE WEEK
After an unusually rocky start earlier in the week against Miami, Clayton Kershaw bounced back in a big way Sunday, striking out 14 in a three-hit shutout as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat San Diego 1-0.
AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.