Tampa Bay Rays Drawing Lots of Drug Testing Attention
By Michael Emdeyar
Some Tampa Bay Rays players are wondering just how random the random drug tests are in the MLB.
Carlos Gomez is in the news again this week. Not for a bat toss or a charging of the mound. This time it is for his reaction to drug testing. Specifically, the number of times he has been tested so far this season. Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Times‘ Marc Topkin quoted Gomez as saying:
"“You can come any time; I’m available to do a drug test. But don’t tell people it’s random. That’s the only complaint that I have. I have plenty of pee and plenty of blood. But don’t say that’s random, because it’s not. So, tell the truth. It doesn’t cost nothing.”"
In this same piece, Gomez places the number at “6 or 7” times that he’s been tested since the beginning of the regular season.
According to the last drug testing report released by the MLB and players union, as reported by USA Today and others, 10,237 tests were conducted from the beginning of the 2016-2017 off-season and the end of the 2017 playoffs. All players on each team’s 40 man roster are eligible to be tested. Based on the math, that would put each player to expect about eight tests per season.
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With Robinson Cano, Wellington Castillo and Jorge Polanco, all players from the Dominican Republic, being suspended for use of PED’s this season, Gomez wonders if specific players are being targeted. But, while his six or so tests seems like a lot or concentrated in a short period of time, it wouldn’t seem like he’s hit the unusual level of tests stretched out over the entire baseball season.
Gomez is not the only Rays player to raise the flag on testing so far this 2017-2018 season.
If you recall, Kevin Kiermaier brought attention to baseball’s drug testing during the offseason. Via Twitter on February 1, Kiermaier tweeted this:
Prior to that, Chris Archer had a similar testing “moment”.
Perhaps it’s a Tampa Bay Rays thing. After all, they have had their share of suspensions over the years. Most recently, catching prospect Nick Ciuffo received a 50-game suspension to start the 2018 season. Before that, recently traded Alex Colome along with several other Rays’ minor league players have received suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs. Worth a thought, of course, but probably not.
With this season’s suspensions in mind, Gomez may be right to at least pose the question. But, he may need to see how the rest of the season plays out before having a fair argument that only players from the Dominican Republic are being singled out.