Major League Baseball prepared to dole out suspensions in the Biogenesis case Monday afternoon and, as expected, Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez was not among those penalized.
MLB’s months-long investigation into the Miami anti-aging clinic owned by Tony Bosch revealed that Gonzalez did not receive any banned substances from the clinic, and baseball cleared him of any misdeeds.
New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended 211 regular-season games, beginning this Thursday and running through the end of the 2014 season, plus any 2013 playoff games. But the embattled star likely will appeal and plans to return from the disabled list to play for the Yankees Monday night.
Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Phillies pitcher Antonio Bastardo, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Mets outfielder Jordany Valdespin, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and Mariners catcher Jesus Montero all accepted 50-game suspensions. Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun has already begun serving a 65-game sentence for his involvement.
Astros pitcher Sergio Escalona, Mets prospect Cesar Puello, Yankees Fernando Martinez, Padres Fautino De Los Santos and free agent Jordan Norberto were also suspended 50 games.
Gonzalez was one of the few high-profile players investigated who was cleared entirely of wrongdoing, and the release from Major League Baseball specified such.
“Major League Baseball’s investigation found no violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez,” the league said in a statement.
The Nationals released a statement from Gonzalez shortly after the penalties were handed down. It read:
“I am very pleased that Major League Baseball has cleared my name. With this process now complete, I have no lingering sense of animosity, as I quickly realized that the objective of this investigation was to clean up our game. This is an ideal that I share with both Major League Baseball and the MLBPA. I would also like to acknowledge the unwavering support of my teammates, the Lerner Family, Mike Rizzo, Davey Johnson, our coaching staff and Nationals fans everywhere.”
The Orioles’ Danny Valencia was also cleared.
Bartolo Colon, Melky Cabrera and Yasmani Grandal, were not suspended for their on-paper involvement with Biogenesis, because they already served 50-game bans after testing positive for banned substances during the 2012 season due to that involvement.
Accepting the suspensions now, when every team has at least 50 games remaining in their season, means that all players except Rodriguez can complete their suspensions before the 2014 season begins.
The verdict comes after a long process in which Gonzalez adamantly maintained his innocence, but was at the mercy of MLB’s investigation. He expressed a desire to cooperate with them and the Major League Baseball Players’ Union throughout the process.
To that end, Gonzalez, who had not previously failed a drug test, passed a blood and urine test administered at his home on Jan. 31, two days after the initial report linking him to Biogenesis surfaced.
“At the end of the day, I’ve never taken performance-enhancing drugs,” Gonzalez said in February, upon reporting to spring training. “And I never will.”
Gonzalez can now be unburdened of the investigation and all of the unseemly issues that surrounded it. How long it takes for the court of public opinion to stop linking his name with Biogenesis and Bosch’s is another matter, and an unfortunate consequence for the affable left-hander.
Gonzalez, who was first connected to Biogenesis by the Miami New Times in January, was linked to the clinic mostly because his father, Max, had been a patient there in an effort to lose weight and improve his health.
Max Gonzalez visited Biogenesis and became a patient of the unlicensed Bosch on the recommendation of a friend, but Gio Gonzalez stated on multiple occasions that he had never once been to the clinic or interacted with Bosch. Max Gonzalez reinforced those assertions, telling the Miami New Times his son was “clean as apple pie.”
Along with his father, Gonzalez’s agency, ACES, was linked to Biogenesis, as well as his offseason strength and conditioning coach, Jimmy Goins, an employee at the University of Miami.
Despite the connections, Gonzalez issued repeated denials of his involvement with Bosch, the clinic or any banned substances. In March, he pitched five shutout innings and allowed just three hits for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, his first big stage after the report surfaced.
Then he tried to go about the process of following up his 21-win season a year ago that earned him a nod as a Cy Young finalist and the Warren Spahn award.
After recovering from a difficult April, Gonzalez has again found himself among the top pitchers in the game, working to a 3.01 ERA in 16 starts since the beginning of May and that number is inflated by his most recent start, a 10-run debacle against the Detroit Tigers. Before that, Gonzalez had a 2.20 ERA in his previous 15 outings.
While the appeals process for those suspended in this case may go on for some time, Gonzalez can turn the page. He will start for the Nationals Tuesday night in a pivotal matchup with the National League East-leading Atlanta Braves and hope that the conversation around him can finally move on.