Talk about a dope! Ex-Yank fool­ish for fol­low­ing for­mer mates A-Rod & Melky

New York Daily News - - SPORTS - JOHN HARPER

Fair or not, it al­ways felt like merely a mat­ter of time be­fore Robin­son Cano wound up get­ting busted for PED use — and likely cost­ing him­self fu­ture elec­tion to the Hall of Fame. His close friend, Melky Cabr­era, and his men­tor, Alex Ro­driguez, each served sus­pen­sions in years past for PED use, and the name of a spokes­woman for his char­ity foun­da­tion, So­nia Cruz, showed up on in­fa­mous list of Bio­gen­e­sis Clinic clients list back in 2013. None of that meant Cano should have been judged guilty by as­so­ci­a­tion, but it was hard not to think those con­nec­tions were rel­e­vant. And now it’s hard not to think he was beat­ing the sys­tem for years, us­ing PEDs that went un­de­tected by Ma­jor League Baseball’s drug tests. There was al­ways some thought the Yan­kees had such con­cerns as well when they drew the line on Cano’s con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions after the 2013 sea­son, al­low­ing their best player to sign his 10-year, $240 mil­lion con­tract with the Mariners.

On Tues­day GM Brian Cash­man seemed to at least hint at those con­cerns, an­swer­ing a ques­tion from re­porters be­fore the Yan­kees-Na­tion­als game in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. about Cano’s PED us­age.

“I would have no knowl­edge, and if I did have knowl­edge I’d be com­pelled to tell Ma­jor League Baseball about it or I’d risk a mil­lion-dol­lar fine. Knowl­edge is one thing, sus­pi­cion is another.”

Cash­man later clar­i­fied that he was speak­ing only in gen­eral terms, with no in­tent re­gard­ing Cano, but, in any case, let’s not pre­tend the Yan­kees wouldn’t have been happy to keep their All-Star sec­ond base­man around on fi­nan­cial terms to their lik­ing. They did of­fer him seven years, $180 mil­lion, though know­ing he wasn’t likely to ac­cept it.

And let’s also not pre­tend they weren’t con­flicted by their own de­ci­sion. They were so wor­ried about fan re­ac­tion, in fact, that they couldn’t wait to throw $153 mil­lion at Jacoby Ells­bury, as well as spend­ing big on Brian McCann, Car­los Bel­tran, and Masahiro Tanaka that win­ter.

At least Cano has pro­duced for the Mariners and, un­like Ells­bury, proven es­pe­cially durable — though it’s clear now that he had some help in that re­gard.

As an­nounced on Tues­day, Cano failed a test not for a per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing drug it­self but some­thing called Furosemide, which is con­sid­ered more of a mask­ing agent that is used to flush the drugs out of the body. Cano, ac­tu­ally failed the test in spring train­ing and only dropped his ap­peal a few days ago, ac­cord­ing to an MLB source, which gave him plenty of time to pre­pare his de­fense. So when his 80-game sus­pen­sion was an­nounced it was no sur­prise that Cano was ready with a dog-ate-my-home­work story about how this was the fault of some un­known doc­tor in the Do­mini­can Repub­lic who pre­scribed Furosemide as med­i­ca­tion for an un­known ail­ment.

As if a player mak­ing huge money wouldn’t con­sult with his team’s med­i­cal peo­ple and/or his high-pow­ered agents about us­ing Furosemide, which is tech­ni­cally con­sid­ered a di­uretic but is listed as a PED in MLB’s joint drug agree­ment.

Please, Rob­bie, we know too much by now.

No­body is shocked or even sur­prised at the news that a big-name player has been us­ing PEDs. The chemists are al­ways ahead of the drug-test­ing: re­mem­ber, A-Rod ap­par­ently passed tests for years when he was us­ing PEDs, and was only sus­pended based on cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence pro­vided mostly by An­thony Bosch in the Bio­gen­e­sis case.

It was Bosch too who even­tu­ally ex­plained how play­ers took gummy-bear type PEDs be­fore games that dis­solved so quickly as to be out of their sys­tem and un­de­tectable in a mat­ter of hours.

As such baseball, and re­ally all sports, are never go­ing to be rid of PEDs, but I do think MLB’s drug-test­ing serves as a de­ter­rent that scares plenty of play­ers from par­tak­ing, for fear of slip­ping up as Cano did and oth­ers have done.

In short, this isn’t the so-called Steroids Era when bulked-up slug­gers were mak­ing a mock­ery of the sport by tak­ing an­abolic steroids that trans­formed their bod­ies and even in­creased the size of their heads, at least in Barry Bonds’ case, al­low­ing some to hit the ball far­ther in their late 30s than they did in their prime.

Those days are over be­cause play­ers can’t take the hard-core stuff with­out be­ing caught, which is why teams have be­come averse to giv­ing long-term con­tracts to play­ers even in their early 30s, as baseball con­tin­ues to trend younger and younger.

Th­ese days the PEDs play­ers take are more about help­ing them re­cover quickly from work­outs and games, en­hanc­ing their abil­ity to stay strong and healthy, and pro­duce over 162 games.

Only the com­plete dopes like three-time of­fender Jen­rry Me­jia get nailed for us­ing the old-school steroids such as bolde­none and stanozolol. In any case, banned sub­stances are banned sub­stances, and per­haps Cano’s failed test ex­plains how he has played at least 150 games a year for the last 11 sea­sons.

Of course, his luck also went bad when he was hit by a pitch on Sun­day, break­ing his hand. But as it turns out, he had al­ready dropped his ap­peal and was go­ing to be sus­pended any­way, so he’ll serve some of his 80 games while un­able to play any­way.

That’s a flaw in the sys­tem that MLB needs to ad­dress — games served while on the DL shouldn’t count toward the sus­pen­sion.

And MLB needs to con­tinue stiff­en­ing the penalty — first-time of­fend­ers should have to serve a full sea­son’s worth of games.

As it is, Cano will lose nearly half of his $24 mil­lion salary and, more im­por­tant to his Mariners’ ball­club that is off to a solid start at 23-17, he’ll be in­el­i­gi­ble for the post­sea­son.

Fi­nally we’ll see if get­ting busted turns Cano into a lesser player over the fi­nal five years of his con­tract. I’m con­vinced that his tal­ent, of­fen­sively as well as de­fen­sively, was such that he prob­a­bly didn’t need PEDs to play at such a high level all th­ese years.

But, much like A-Rod, he was dumb and greedy enough that us­ing them will al­most cer­tainly keep him out of the Hall of Fame.

AP @dar­ren­rov­ell @TJQuin­nESPN

He may no longer wear pin­stripes but Seattle’s Robin­son Cano is still one of the big­gest stars in the game, mak­ing his 80-game ban for vi­o­lat­ing MLB’s Joint Drug Agree­ment all the more shock­ing, even though the All-Star sec­ond base­man de­nies he has...

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