The players gathered in small groups Friday morning around the various television screens situated throughout the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse, watching the news stories about the exoneration of Ryan Braun.
It is a story that hit close to home to all of the players, who just this week here at spring training have undergone testing themselves for the presence of banned performance enhancing drugs.
“It’s tough to see a guy who’s accomplished so much in such a short time in his career and has such a good reputation to see some of the bad things that have happened to him,” Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider said.
“I’ve read some quotes from him. It seems like he has the right mindset to dealing with adversity, whether it’s baseball related or personal life. As players you’ve got to appreciate that, the way he’s handled this process.”
The news broke late Thursday afternoon that Braun’s 50-game suspension after testing for elevated levels of testosterone has been overturned following an arbitration hearing.
The 28-year-old outfielder with the Milwaukee Brewers was named the National League’s most valuable player in 2011. The news that one of his urine samples had tested positive was leaked to the news media shortly before he accepted his award.
All along throughout the process, Braun has maintained his innocence.
Snider said it was wrong that the results of Braun’s drug testing was leaked to the media in the first place, before Braun had the opportunity to appeal that finding to Major League Baseball as is his right under the drug testing guidelines.
Snider said there should be an investigation into who was responsible for that leak and that that person or persons should be fired.
“I can’t say that I’ve lost all confidence [in baseball’s drug testing system]” Snider said. “I think it’s something that’s got to be addressed, it’s got to be adjusted.
“However it got out, that should be the story. What they should be looking into now is how are we allowing people to ruin somebody’s reputation without credible evidence and not having any kind of punishment for them.”
Blue Jays pitcher Carlos Villanueva is an alternative representative of the executive board of the MLB Players Association.
When asked about the integrity of baseball’s current drug testing procedures Villanueva said he always has concerned when he is subjected to a drug test.
“I'm one of the guys that every time I get tested I check the numbers and everything a hundred times,” Villanueva said. “I ask the guys 'how many times have one of you messed up and actually done something wrong?' You always get 'Oh, if that's happened, it's happened once.'
“But we're human, there's human error in everything we do. And of course even though it might be 99 out of 100 times they do it right, that one time it might affect somebody the way it apparently affected Braun.”
Villanueva played with Braun in Milwaukee and he said he was surprised in the first place that he had tested positive.
“Nobody wants that cloud hanging over their name, and I played with him for like four or five years, and when he was in the minor-leagues, and he's always been a super worker and a guy that has shown that he has integrity,” Villanueva said. “Hopefully after this he can start cleaning up his name and keep working like he did before.”
Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia said he is happy that Braun has been exonerated.
“I know Braun, I know him personally,” Arencibia said. “I know he’s not a guy to do that. It’s good to see that justice happened there for somebody who didn’t do it.”
Arencibia said he still trusts baseball drug testing policies.
“I just think everyone is just too fast in this world to bash somebody or be negative on somebody without giving them a chance,” he said.
Toronto pitcher Ricky Romero said he felt bad that Braun, who was in his draft class, will have difficulty leaving the story behind.
“Obviously for him it sucks that somehow someway he’s going to be linked with this,” Romero said. “But, like I said, he’s not guilty which is good.”