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White Sox laud MLB's stringent drug testing policy

Players, front office react to suspensions handed down to A-Rod, others

CHICAGO -- With the White Sox coming off of an 0-7 road trip to Cleveland and Detroit, Monday's 13 suspensions handed down by Major League Baseball for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program in relation to the Biogenesis investigation didn't consume the players' every thoughts.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn pretty much passed on any pregame topics not related to his own team, including the suspension of Alex Rodriguez for the rest of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 season and his ensuing appeal allowing him to play in Monday's series opener.

"You've seen this team play recently," Hahn said. "I've got 99 problems and A-Rod ain't one of them."

"It is what it is," White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham said. "All of us just want to go out there and play. I don't think all of this should affect us one way or the other."

MLB on Monday suspended 13 players as a result of the league's Biogenesis investigation. 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 utilityman Jordany Valdespin. Minor Leaguers Fernando Martinez, Jordan Norberto, one-time White Sox farmhand Fautino de los Santos, Cesar Puello and Sergio Escalona were also suspended.

Most of the inquiries thrown at the White Sox players, manager Robin Ventura and Hahn centered on Rodriguez, who was scheduled to hit fourth in a return to big league action. But the responses quickly changed the focus to how these suspensions prove the stringent MLB testing policy in place truly works.

"You'll look back and these are all little pieces that [mean] it will always get better," White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. "Talking about the drug testing stuff, it will always get better. This is the evolution of it, the progression of it. It doesn't happen overnight when you're dealing with a huge operation. Really it's a short amount of time when you talk about six, seven years of implementing something and having it being perfect. These things take time, and years from now, it will all make sense. It's all good in that it's moving in the right direction."

"It's showing one of those things where eventually Major League Baseball is going to catch guys who are doing things," Ventura said. "It's unfortunate, but it's been a part of the game for a while and they're just doing a better job now of finding ways to catch guys."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.
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