SAN FRANCISCO – The harsher punishments for major leaguers caught using performance-enhancing drugs met with approval around the Oakland A’s clubhouse.
On Friday, Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association announced that the suspension for a first offense would increase from 50 to 80 games, a second offense would rise from 100 to 162 and a third offense would remain a lifetime ban from the game.
But the biggest amendment – any player suspended during the season will be ineligible for that year’s postseason.
“I just don’t think if you get popped for cheating that you should be rewarded with getting to play in a World Series and a chance to win a World Series,” reliever Sean Doolittle said. “I don’t think that’s fair to guys on your own team, let alone the guys you’re playing against.”
Shortstop Jed Lowrie said the best part of the changes are the increase in the number of tests players could be subjected to. In-season random urine tests will increase from 1,400 to 3,200 overall. Every player will be tested a minimum of two times, as before.
“If your odds of getting caught go up, I think that’s a stronger deterrent than the number of games (a suspension carries),” Lowrie said. “That’s my personal belief. I’m happy to see those go up.”
“The main goal is to remove the stigma that’s been behind us for the last 15 years,” infielder Nick Punto said. “We just need to clean up that image, and this is a good step in the right direction.”
The postseason ban is critical. Last season, Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz both returned from suspensions and were able to play for the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers, respectively, in the postseason.
Though suspended players obviously have rust to shake off when they return, Doolittle thinks there is an advantage to a player who sits out part of the season only to return for the playoffs. That’s another reason he’s happy that players who get caught will miss the postseason.
“You sit out 80 games, and come postseason time, you’re fresh again,” Doolittle said. “ Everybody else is playing 162 games and rolls right into the playoffs, and you get 2 ½ months off.”