Reporting Ashley Dunkak
By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – Instead of answering questions about the impending series with American League Central foe Cleveland, the Detroit Tigers spent Monday’s pregame media session answering questions about the suspension of Jhonny Peralta.
Twenty games above .500 and a favorite for a second straight World Series appearance, the Tigers will have to make it the rest of the way without Peralta, their shortstop and their number six batter, who was hitting .305 when his suspension was announced Monday.
“It’s a bit disappointing, obviously, for what he’s done for us the last few years, what he’s been to this team,” Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander said, “but at the same time, you’ve got to treat this like an injury. You can’t look at it like anything else. It’s stuff that happens to teams throughout the year. You lose guys, you have to battle through some stuff.”
Had Peralta appealed the suspension, as Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees did, he could have continued playing and helping the Tigers with their push toward the postseason.
If Peralta had appealed, however, whatever suspension he eventually received would have carried into next season, limiting his leverage as a free agent in 2014.
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said the decision whether to appeal was completely Peralta’s.
“Those discussions of appeal or non-appeal, those are not discussions with me,” Dombrowski said. “Those are discussions that he had with his representatives. My understanding is that if you’re guilty you take the suspension and if you’re not guilty you appeal it. He decided to take the suspension.”
“That’s not my decision,” Dombrowski continued. “That’s his. And I think there’s been a lot of encouragement from people that they felt if he did it, that he should take his suspension. That’s what I think that, from my understanding, that the commissioner’s office as well as the players association advised the players, and it’s up to him.”
Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer spoke out strongly against Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, who accepted a 65-game ban as the first domino to fall in the Biogenesis saga. Scherzer called Braun’s actions – which included blasting people who handled his positive test sample and issuing lofty proclamations of innocence – “despicable.”
Now it is official that his teammate, Peralta, did much of the same. Back in February, Peralta issued a statement through his attorney that he had never done steroids and that anyone who said otherwise was lying.
While Scherzer did not renew the exact sentiments about Braun in speaking about his teammate, he did not back off his stance on steroids.
“I’ve made my statements,” Scherzer said. “It’s pretty apparent how I feel towards cheaters. With Jhonny, it’s disappointing. It really is. But he took ownership of it, and hopefully we can move forward.“
The Tigers will be moving forward with Jose Iglesias, an infielder acquired from the Boston Red Sox. Renowned for his defense, the 23-year-old had been playing at third for Boston but plays shortstop and second as well.
The scouting reports are great on Iglesias, but Peralta’s impending suspension put pressure on the Tigers to deal for him, and they had to give up quality minor league outfielder Avisail Garcia to get Iglesias. Plus, instead of heading toward the postseason with a seasoned veteran, they will be playing a young guy who is joining the team two-thirds of the way through the season.
Peralta’s teammates have been largely forgiving in their remarks, but they understand the impact.
“I hate that he chose that,” right fielder Torii Hunter said, “but he’s being punished for it, and he’s going to serve his 50 games, he’s going to do what he has to do … I’m pretty sure he won’t do it again.”