BUFFALO, N.Y. — The baseball world may be reeling, but it’s business as usual inside the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ clubhouse.
Major League Baseball was dealt another black-eye when New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and 12 other players received suspensions for their connections with Biogenesis of America, the now defunct anti-aging clinic in suburban Miami accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
RailRiders outfielder Fernando Martinez, catcher Francisco Cervelli and former Yankee top prospect Jesus Montero were among the 12 players that were suspended for 50 games. Cervelli and Montero have both played for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Rodriguez, the lone player who is filing an appeal, was hit with 211 game suspension that would effectively wipe out the rest of this season and all of 2014.
“I was kind of shocked like everybody else,” RailRiders pitcher David Huff said before Thursday’s doubleheader against the Buffalo Bisons.
“I try not to pay attention to that stuff because I’ve got more on my plate to even think about what’s going on outside the baseball field. I’m trying to work on getting better as a player.
“It is what it is. It’s kind of like a black eye on baseball. It’s tough for the fans, tough for the league and tough for baseball in general. But we’re hoping to get past this.”
RailRiders catcher JR Murphy, like Huff, was stunned when he heard the news.
But both players chose their words carefully because they didn’t feel they were informed enough on the entire subject.
“Honestly, I don’t know enough about the topic to comment on it,” JR Murphy explained.
“I don’t know enough about what’s happening. Who did what. Who’s getting accused of what to talk about it.”
While fans and media have been relentless in their disdain for Rodriguez, the RailRiders spoke of an A-Rod in a kinder light. Rodriguez rehabbed with the RailRiders in mid July and showed himself to be very approachable and more than willing help his Triple-A teammates.
“I thought Alex was great,” Murphy said.”He was really easy to approach, easy to talk to. He loves talking about hitting. So young guys like me know that and were not afraid to go up there and ask questions.”
Huff, who was felled by an A-Rod line drive in 2010 while pitching for the Indians, said the rehab stint gave him and Rodriguez a chance to share a laugh over that moment.
“I told him ‘Hey now that I’m on the same team you’re on I don’t have to worry about line drives flying at my head,’” Huff joked.”He just kind of chuckled.”
Even though the story is making headlines all over the world, the RailRiders don’t foresee the suspensions creating any kind of distraction in their day to day routine.
In fact, Huff said that as far as he knew, The Times Leader was the first media outlet to broach the topic to the RailRiders.
But at the same time the RailRiders know that many fans are disgusted with the state of baseball, and they have every right to be.
“It’s unfortunate for the normal fan to have to listen and hear this stuff on ESPN,” said Murphy.
“You don’t want them to make a rush to judgment but each fan is entitled to their opinion,” Huff added.
“If they don’t like it they’re able to voice their opinion. That’s part of the Constitution. It’s one of those things that everybody is going to have their opinion about it. To me I try not to focus on that. I try to focus on what I’m doing.”
At the end of the day the RailRiders are just concentrating on their own backyard. Making the playoffs and improving their game as individuals to earn a call up to the Bronx.
“I can definitely vouch for the guys in the club house,” said Huff. “That’s what we’re worried about. Ourselves. We’re all in the same boat. We’re all concentrating on opportunities with this organization because everybody’s healthy. Everybody is doing well, opportunities in this organizations (at the Major League level) are very limited. Everybody in this clubhouse in Scranton is focused on getting themselves better so that way when that opportunity comes they can step up and do it.”