SALT LAKE CITY — Major League Baseball had the attention of the sports world Monday afternoon as it disseminated its decisions on player suspensions for the use of banned substances.
The Salt Lake Bees were among the large group of players and fans keeping their eyes on the news.
“It’s tough to assess it,” pitcher Barry Enright said after the announcement and prior to the Bees’ 5-4 victory over Omaha Monday evening.
While none of the 13 players who were punished for the use of performance-enhancing substances such as testosterone and human growth hormone are associated with the Los Angeles Angels organization, the impact of the league's decision was still felt in Salt Lake.
Twelve of the players accepted a 50 game-suspension for their involvement with Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic in southern Florida, while New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is appealing his 211-game suspension.
“It’s obviously a good day for baseball in the cleanup process,” Enright said. “I think we all want to have a clean sport and want to know we’re all on an even playing field.”
Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Michael Weiner echoed Enright’s thoughts in a statement Monday, saying “The union's members have made it clear that they want a clean game. They support efforts to discipline players, and harshly, to help ensure an even playing field for all.”
While major league players are afforded the option to appeal suspensions by the protection of the MLBPA, just as Rodriguez is doing, players in the minor leagues do not have the same defense.
“It’s also a pretty sad day for baseball to see it’s still going on,” Enright said. “The guys that aren’t doing it feel it’s a detriment to them. You never want to do it. You kind of carry your integrity in not doing it, but knowing that people are out there, it is tough knowing the playing field isn’t fair.”
When the Bees went to Shriner’s Hospitals for Children in July, a patient the team was visiting was receiving HGH as part of his treatment regimen. Enright used the opportunity to better understand the substance and its draw.
“I asked the questions because there are so many questions about what HGH does for you,” he said. “I try to be educated about it to see why people do take it; to see what the advantage is and why they feel the big need to take it.”
HGH is an effective treatment for children with growth disorders and for adults who are deficit in growth hormone as it stimulates cell reproduction and regeneration.
“Obviously it’s a big thing in helping recovery,” Enright said, “but when it’s banned in sports, it’s something that shouldn’t be taken. There’s that chance of being caught, and I think people are realizing you are going to be caught if you continue to use it.”
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.