- The Washington Times - Monday, August 5, 2013

The baseball world pulsed Monday as the news of an unprecedented swath of suspensions came down in relation to Major League Baseball’s investigation into Biogenesis.

But inside the Washington Nationals’ clubhouse, as they listened to the news about Alex Rodriguez and the 12 players who accepted 50-game bans, they shrugged off most suggestions of relief. Despite left-hander Gio Gonzalez being entangled in the investigation, most never felt they had any reason to worry.

Gonzalez, who was one of just two players in MLB’s investigation determined not to have received any banned substances from the South Florida anti-aging clinic or owner Tony Bosch, had given them his word. They believed him.

His adamant denials and insistence on his innocence were ultimately validated.

“I know Gio,” manager Davey Johnson said. “I believed him from the get-go. In his case, I wish they could have cleared it up earlier and made an announcement earlier.”

Added first baseman Adam LaRoche: “I think enough of us talked to him early on that we knew he was free and clear. [But] it’s good peace of mind for him and for any skeptics out there to have it confirmed. I’m sure is a big weight off his shoulders.”

Gonzalez, who had long conversations with general manager Mike Rizzo, Johnson and many teammates when his name first surfaced in connection to Biogenesis but had otherwise tried to move past the turmoil, issued a statement shortly after MLB cleared him.

“I am very pleased that Major League Baseball has cleared my name,” it read. “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.”

While the news was good for Gonzalez, the Nationals were like many other teams digesting the suspensions for many of their opponents. And their voices continued to grow louder in the effort to rid the game of performance-enhancing drugs.

Some were happy that those who cheated are getting some of the penance due to them.

“You don’t really want to play against, with, or otherwise, guys who cheat,” said reliever Tyler Clippard, the Nationals’ acting union representative with Drew Storen currently in the minor leagues.

“I think everyone is happy that this is finally happening,” said right-hander Dan Haren, who could tick off a long list of now-known PED users who had affected games he pitched.

Haren vividly recalled Manny Ramirez’s torrid stretch of play after being acquired by the Dodgers in 2008, which played a big part in helping Los Angeles beat out Haren’s Diamondbacks for the NL West crown. Ramirez’s PED use, which may have been going on during that season, was previously traced to Bosch and his family.

“It’s just really unfortunate that good players feel the need to get an even bigger edge to be successful,” Haren said. “It sucks for the majority of baseball players who play the game under the rules, fairly. It sucks. The penalties obviously have to get stricter to deter it. What they should be, I don’t know. But obviously what they are now isn’t enough to deter people from taking it.”

“I give the commissioner’s office a lot of credit for coming out and exonerating the two players who needed to be exonerated,” Rizzo said. “The penalties [that were handed down] were bargained collectively and, I think, issued in a balanced manner. It shows the seriousness of the players’ association and the commissioner’s office to come together and rid the game of them.”

There were others, still, who were just downright disgusted, tired of the unrelenting conversation and attention being paid to those who were doing the wrong thing, and ready to move on.

“I’m so over it,” LaRoche said. “I don’t even care anymore. Literally, don’t care.”

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