Pro baseball

RailCats weigh in on baseball's latest PED controversy

2013-07-25T21:30:00Z 2013-07-25T23:19:05Z RailCats weigh in on baseball's latest PED controversyHillary Smith, (219) 933-3233

GARY | Alain Quijano quickly summed up how baseball players feel about the 65-game suspension of Milwaukee Brewers' left fielder Ryan Braun.

"Every guy in there is going to have an opinion," Quijano said looking into the RailCats clubhouse.

Major League Baseball continues to investigate and determine the fates of 20 other players implicated in the performance-enhancing drug case involving Biogenesis lab in Florida.

RailCats players and staff vary their opinions on what the ultimate punishment for players using PEDs should be, but they agree that it creates controversy in the sport.

Here's why performance-enhancing drugs are attractive:

"You get better results quicker," RailCats athletic trainer Audric Warren said. "Your deer antler sprays, your HDHs, your gorilla testosterone, all that stuff. All that gives you that edge. Baseball's already a grind as it is, your body's going to recover better. Not to mention all that work you've done in the weight room is going to translate, I wouldn't say double, but you're going to get results quicker, faster, better. If that's what you're trying to do, fight for a job, break a record, that's the first thing on some of these guy's mind."

Here's what most athletes don't know about PEDs:

"Deer antler spray is supposed to make the deer antler pelt softer," Warren said. "If a person takes it, it creates insulin growth factor one, which causes systemic growth of tissue. So after a game you take it, the next day 'I don't feel like crap.' After 100 games, you feel a lot better. The downside they don't tell you is, let's say you have a small amount of cancer, maybe precancerous cells that won't turn into cancer, you could make those grow, too."

More power and a faster recovery could mean more money, which could be attractive. In the minor league system where players need power and consistency to move up to a higher league, an injury can permanently derail a career.

"I can see where guys can see what it can do, you've got your guys (around you), you've got your doctor telling you it's OK, not knowing that they could be leaving something out," outfielder Mike Massaro said. "I could see where it could be an attraction with the money that could be made. When it comes down to it, when you've got guys like (Barry) Bonds and (Mark) McGwire who might not get in (to the Hall of Fame) and is it worth it? Is it worth it to do it and not get caught and have the asterisk by your name? It's about the person, and it's not worth it to me."

Quijano said that players taking PEDs at the higher level benefits those in independent baseball.

"I hope this comes out right, and I don't want anyone to feel sorry for us in independent baseball, but if there are 100 guys who lose their jobs for cheating, that's going to give guys like us a chance," the pitcher said. "If guys chose to do it, they've got to make the individual choice."

The RailCats' contracts include a clause that indicates that a player could be tested for drugs, but none have been. The independent leagues aren't under the purview of Major League Baseball, so a player released from a team while serving a suspension could theoretically make his way onto an independent league roster.

In the case of Braun, he's still under contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, so no independent league teams could sign him.

"I was aware of clubs in the Frontier League testing for recreational drugs," RailCats manager Greg Tagert said. "More importantly from a player's standpoint is that when the San Diego Padres sign (former RailCats pitcher) Clay Zavada, the first thing they're going to do is test him. So if players think they can get around the system, at our level it will catch up with you."

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