Linked to Biogenesis, Nats lefty deemed to have not violated drug program
WASHINGTON -- Major League Baseball cleared the name of Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez on Monday, when it handed out suspensions to 13 players as the result of its investigations into the Florida anti-aging clinic Biogenesis.
In a statement released on Monday afternoon, MLB said its investigation "found no violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program" by Gonzalez or Orioles infielder Danny Valencia.
Gonzalez was not available to the media prior to the Nationals' game against the Braves on Monday night but released a statement through the team.
"I am very pleased that Major League Baseball has cleared my name," Gonzalez said. "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, [general manager] Mike Rizzo, [manager] Davey Johnson, our coaching staff and Nationals fans everywhere."
MLB on Monday suspended 13 players as a result of the league's Biogenesis investigation. Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez received the stiffest penalty -- a 211-game ban without pay through the end of the 2014 regular season. Rodriguez, 38, has appealed the suspension, which is to begin Thursday. His case will be heard by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. Rodriguez's discipline, MLB said in its written announcement, is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years. Rodriguez's discipline under the Basic Agreement is for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to "obstruct and frustrate" the investigation.
The other players who were handed 50-game suspensions include Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo and recently demoted Mets utility man Jordany Valdespin. Minor Leaguers Fernando Martinez, Jordan Norberto, Fautino de los Santos, Cesar Puello and Sergio Escalona were also suspended.
Gonzalez always had denied using performance-enhancing drugs, despite the Miami New Times' report that linked him to Biogenesis' Anthony Bosch. ESPN's "Outside the Lines" later reported that Gonzalez only received substances not on MLB's banned-substances list.
"I know Gio and I believed him from the get-go," Johnson said.
Johnson said he shared a conversation with Gonzalez during Spring Training and came away with the sense that his left-hander "wasn't concerned about it."
"Just of course like anybody else [he] was upset that he was even linked to it," Johnson said. "But it is a relief that now everybody knows it wasn't a problem. It's just another distraction you don't have to deal with."
First baseman Adam LaRoche also said he didn't have doubts about Gonzalez's innocence.
"I think enough of us talked to him early on that we knew he was free and clear on that," LaRoche said. "So it's good peace of mind for him and for any skeptics out there to have it confirmed. I'm sure it's a big weight off his shoulders."
Johnson's one quibble with MLB's investigation was that it took until Monday for Gonzalez to see his name cleared. Reliever Tyler Clippard called it "unfortunate" that his teammate's name was linked to the Biogenesis investigation at all.
"He's obviously been doing the right things," Clippard said. "Gio's a good guy, and he wasn't cheating. For him to be on the list in the first place is kind of unfortunate, but I guess this is good for him to get a clean slate. He really shouldn't have been mentioned anyway, but that's neither here nor there. It's good that he's clean."
Gonzalez, who is 7-4 with a 3.57 ERA in 22 starts this season, will take the ball against the Braves on Tuesday night.