Pirates notebook: Players applaud punishment for PED users

Rob Biertempfel
| Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, 6:30 p.m.

The first day of baseball's post-Biogenesis era was pretty much the same as those that preceded it for the Pirates.

No one from the Pirates was implicated in the scandal, which resulted in suspensions for 14 players, including Alex Rodriguez (who has opted to appeal) and Ryan Braun. There was not a lot of sympathy in the Pirates' clubhouse for the guilty players.

“The Bible says, ‘What happens in dark will come to light,' ” center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. “That's what happens. If you're doing something wrong, eventually it's going to come out. You can't get away with it forever.”

Closer Mark Melancon played with Rodriguez with the Yankees from 2009-11. Melancon said Tuesday that MLB and the players have a moral obligation to rid the game of performance-enhancing drugs.

“Most people are wanting this game cleaned up,” Melancon said. “Baseball has done a really good job thus far and (is) continuing to keep an eye on it. We are role models for a lot of people. Morally, I'd like to see things stay in a positive light.”

When word leaked in June that the commissioner's office was investigating players who allegedly got PEDs from the Biogenesis clinic, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was supportive of the crackdown.

“If our industry has to take some hits to move forward and be transparent, we'll take some hits,” Hurdle said. “The best way to gain and build trust is through transparency.”

The penalties doled out by MLB are a victory for players who don't use PEDs. But first baseman Garrett Jones realizes the game likely won't ever be entirely clean.

“I'd hope this is kind of the final straw, the end to all the cheating that's been going around baseball,” Jones said. “But I'm sure every now and then somebody will be caught for something new.”

Snider making progress

Outfielder Travis Snider (left big toe discomfort) played catch Tuesday but has not yet been cleared for full-speed running. “It will be a progression this week,” Snider said. “We'll see how my body responds.”

Going the distance

A.J. Burnett tossed his 23rd complete game Sunday against the Rockies. Burnett is 17-6, including 2-0 with the Pirates, when he goes the distance. According to Elias, the only other Pirates pitcher in the past decade to get a complete-game win in back-to-back seasons is Paul Maholm (2010-11).

Heart and hustle

The MLB Players' Alumni Association named McCutchen a preliminary winner of the Heart and Hustle Award. One player from each team is recognized based on “passion, desire and work ethic, demonstrated on and off the field.”

Former and active players elect the overall winner, which will be announced Nov. 19.

Sgt. Vitale feted

The Pirates honored Marine Sgt. Doug Vitale, who has returned home to Pittsburgh after being severely wounded two years ago in Afghanistan. Vitale watched batting practice from the dugout and attended the game as the team's guest.

After stepping on an improvised explosive device while on patrol, Vitale had both legs amputated from above the knees. He also had two strokes due to blood loss. Vitale has been recovering at the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Program in Tampa, Fla.

The Lt. Dan Band, an offshoot of the Gary Sinise Foundation, will hold a benefit concert for Vitale at 7 p.m. Friday at Stage AE on the North Shore.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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