The Angels will face old nemesis Alex Rodriguez on Friday night for the first time since the New York Yankees slugger served a one-year suspension for obtaining illegal performance-enhancing substances from the now-closed Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in South Florida, the longest drug suspension in baseball history.
“I look at anybody who cheated differently, but at the same time, I think all of the guys [involved with the Biogenesis scandal] have served their time, served the penalty they’ve been charged with, and are allowed to play,” Angels closer Huston Street said.
“A lot of them are really good players, including Alex, and they’re good for baseball. People make mistakes in judgment. I don’t hold anything against anyone forever. He served his penalty. There’s not much more they can do after that.”
Rodriguez, 39, ranks fourth on baseball’s all-time list with 665 home runs and is tied with Barry Bonds for second place with 1,996 runs batted in.
And even at his age, with a year off, and an assortment of injuries suffered in recent seasons, Rodriguez has been so good this season (.270, 11 homers, 27 RBIs) that he’s batting third as New York opens a three-game series against the Angels at Yankee Stadium on Friday night.
“There’s no doubt that Alex paid a price not only in his suspension but in public opinion,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. “But he’s out there, he’s competing, and it doesn’t seem to affect him. He’s competing as well as he ever has."
Though the steroid era and the Biogenesis scandal tainted the game for years, Street is convinced that the subsequent strengthening of the joint drug agreement and stiffer penalties for cheaters such as Rodriguez have been “good for the game” in the long run.
“I think MLB has done a very good job, since I’ve come into the league, of changing the culture, of policing it,” Street said. “Now, when somebody gets busted, it’s a total shock, which is a drastic culture change from before. I think that’s a major positive for MLB. They’ve done a good job of educating the younger players and punishing the players who skirt the system.”