Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson, the Angels’ player representative to the MLB Players’ Association and a former teammate of suspended Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, addressed a crowd of reporters in the Angels dugout today. Here’s a sampling of his responses:
Hopefully this is the last press conference to discuss this topic.
Yeah, hopefully this is the last press conference meeting that we have to have, and this is the last scandal for the game. I think it’s good they’re getting all this stuff out of the way. It’s a uniform thing. Everyone’s taking their suspensions except for that other guy, and hopefully we can move on from this.
It’s sad that playoff races are impacted by players who use performance enhancing drugs, but this is just the nature of the beast. I think the issue centers around greed. If anybody says something else, they’re not telling the truth. Players want to do well because they want to get bigger contracts. That’s 100 percent what it is. That money that they earn is tainted, just like their statistics are. Hopefully we can take this as a lesson to everybody watching all the clean players and stuff, that we’re cleaning up the game and getting rid of the guys, getting rid of the incentive to do this.
How do you feel about the severity of the suspensions, and how much does it affect playoff-bound teams as opposed to other teams — is it really a level playing field?
It affects everybody. You think about the series that we just had with Texas, Nelson (Cruz) did really well. This one he won’t be available. That sense, is the playing field level? I don’t know. You can’t take away wins that he’s created, through his sabermetric contributions. But at the same time, this is just the way the game is right now. You hope that with the impending suspension of (Alex) Rodriguez also, that we have found a level playing field for the clean players and I guess, it just gets back to my earlier point. We need the greed to stop. Like I accepted the fact that I’m not a $300 million player. God didn’t bless me with that. I’m dealing with regular guy stuff out there, just trying to compete and that’s the way it is for the rest of the guys in this dugout and this clubhouse. You’re dealt a certain hand. You’ve got to play that. Stop being a baby and move on.
Are you happy with the process or would you like to see it be even stricter?
I think if you look at the way the testing program is, I’d say there’s less people slipping through the cracks than there were 10 years ago. The game has come a long way in that span. Whereas some other, I would say, governing bodies in sports, they don’t have the frequency of testing or the accuracy of testing that we do. I think what we have is a very good program.
What’s your opinion of Cruz now?
Like I said, it’s very hard to make character judgments of people when you don’t know all the circumstances. I’ve known Nelson for years and years and always thought he was a great guy, a great teammate. But at this point, he’s a competitor. He’s on the other team, so it’s really immaterial what I think. It’s a results-based game and when he gets in there, regardless of the fact that I think he’s a funny guy, he still got hits off me and I’m still pissed about that.