There is nothing worse for a general manager than to be blindsided by allegations of impropriety by one of your players. True or false, the news causes an immediate maelstrom of controversy, uncertainty and turmoil.
And that’s exactly what happened to Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels and Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo after the Miami New Times reported Wednesday that Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez and Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz were linked to a company that allegedly produced performance-enhancing drugs. Neither Gonzalez nor Cruz had ever been linked to PEDs before.
It’s an awkward situation for a general manager. Obviously, neither GM knew about this report or whether it was actually true or false. If true, however, the GMs will have to deal with the ramifications from a team perspective, as well as the potential negative public relations that normally follow.
Gonzalez saved Rizzo from having to comment publicly by issuing a full denial via Twitter, and Rizzo subsequently made the best possible PR move and said nothing about it. He and his club had no knowledge of the report and will support Gonzalez until all the facts are gathered. This could take weeks or months, so the resolution -- and any disciplinary action -- might not come until spring training. And rest assured, the issue will become a distraction during camp as the team becomes inundated with media requests for Gonzalez.
Meanwhile, Cruz and the Rangers took the exact opposite approach. Cruz has yet to comment on the allegations, while the Rangers issued an organizational statement that read:
“The Texas Rangers were contacted last week by Miami New Times regarding the story posted this morning. At that time, the Rangers contacted Major League Baseball on that inquiry. The team has no further comment.”
Until there is an arrest made, an admission of guilt or a positive drug test, it will be extremely difficult and unlikely that the commissioner’s office would suspend any of these players in the short term. (T.J. Quinn explains in further detail here.)
Thus, it’s still premature to think that the report alone will force Texas or Washington to think about alternatives or options to replace Cruz and Gonzalez.