Jack Zduriencik cleared up a few technicalities regarding the suspension of Jesus Montero. He will indeed serve it all this year, and despite the fact that it may end prior to the finish of the Mariner season, Zduriencik ruled out that he’ll play again this year. He said the working plan is for Montero to go to Arizona and be with their rookie league team in Arizona.
“He can stay down there and get all his necessary work in,” Zduriencik said. “He won’t be able to dress during games. He won’t participate in any on-field activities involving games. But there are some things he’s allowed to do. He can work out every day on the field, take batting practice, take infield practice, participate in simulated games.”
Before that, either Tuesday or Wednesday, Montero will meet with Zduriencik and team president Chuck Armstrong.
“I’m interested in sitting down to talk to him,” he said. “Chuck and I will have a one on one meeting with him. It will be interesting. We’ll just have a normal conversation. He’s going to pay the price. Hopefully we get it behind him, and he’s learned from it, and we go on and it’s about baseball again.”
I asked Zduriencik if this changes his evaluation of Montero’s future with the Mariners.
“I look at it as a bad mistake,” he said. “Once he serves his suspension, players get second chances. People in life get second chances. No matter what walk of life you’re in. I think in this particular case, once his suspension is over, we will view it as that. It will be behind him.”
I also asked him if he feared Montero’s power — his main tool — was a result of PEDs and not natural talent.
“I don’t think so, only because since the day the kid signed, when he was 15 years old, he was a known power hitter. He hit all the way through the minor league system. He’s always been known as a really, really good hitter. That would beg the question why you would do something at such a young age when you have such a promising future ahead of you.
“I think the biggest thing is we get the suspension served, we get this behind us, and we’ll treat him like any other player that’s paid a price for a mistake he’s made.”
Raul Ibanez had some strong comments as well about today’s suspensions.
“It’s terrible for the game. First and foremost, this is about the game. It’s about the integrity of the game. As a father of five children, it’s really difficult when I have an 11-year-old son who looks up to a lot of these players. He’s old enough to say, this person cheated, too.
“There’s life lessons in that as a father to say cheaters never prosper. It always comes back to get you. It’s a sad thing for the game of baseball, sad we have to spend so much time talking about this instead of talking about all the great things that go on in the game. It’s terrible.”
Asked to comment specifically about the fact that a teammate was suspended, Ibanez said, “If you do things that aren’t right, there’s a consequence, and this stuff is not right. It’s illegal, it’s wrong, and it’s cheating. There’s a consequence. There’s going to be a consequence for everyone that does what’s wrong.”
I asked Ibanez about the fact that players like himself, having an historic season at age 41, will now be under even more suspicion.
“The unfortunate part is a lot of people start looking at everyone like we’re all doing it. And that’s not fair to the overwhelming majority of us who have done it the right way, with integrity, and honor, and hard work, and will, and determination.
“There’s a great message to kids in this. Self discipline, outworking everybody, belief in yourself, will, determination, desire in doing things the right way. That’s the way to go about doing it. And that’s the message. When I grew up watching George Brett, I didn’t have to worry about this, but our kids today have to look at this garbage – and that’s what it is, garbage – and people that do things the wrong way. It’s disappointing.”
Ibanez said he would not be averse to toughening the penalty against those caught violating the drug policy.
“I can’t fathom why,” he said, speaking of players who cheat. “Just why. I can’t fathom why. When it’s a simple formula, but it’s not easy to execute. It’s simple in that, work your ass off. Do everything right. Find the training regimen for you. Find the appropriate therapeutic regimens for you. Be determined to succeed. It’s simple, but it’s not easy to maintain the discipline and hard work to do it.
“If they made the punishment worse, I’m not going to get on a soapbox and say I want them to do this or that. But I’m all for it, yeah.”
Asked his reaction to former teammate Alex Rodriguez, Ibanez said, “Disappointed. It’s disappointing, this whole thing, and it’s terrible for the game of baseball. I think it’s a sad day for baseball. But the flip side of that, if you look at it statistically, it still proves that the overwhelming majority of us are clean and have done it the right way. I try to focus on that and move forward.”