HOUSTON -- The Boston Red Sox, in general, applauded Major League Baseball's suspension Monday of 13 players for using performance-enhancing drugs.
"It's a sad day in baseball, but you're talking about less than one percent of the players," said outfielder Johnny Gomes. "That's a real selfish act. With the suspensions coming down, I think it's a good day in baseball. It shows [the system] is working. It should be a good day in baseball to applaud the clean guys in the game."
MLB on Monday suspended 13 players as a result of the league's Biogenesis investigation. Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez received the stiffest penalty - a 211-game ban without pay through the end of the 2014 regular season. Rodriguez, 38, has appealed the suspension, which is to begin Thursday. His case will be heard by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. Rodriguez's discipline, MLB said in its written announcement, is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years. Rodriguez's discipline under the basic agreement is for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to "obstruct and frustrate" the investigation.
The other players who were handed 50-game suspensions include Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo and recently demoted Mets utilityman Jordany Valdespin. Minor Leaguers Fernando Martinez, Jordan Norberto, Fautino de los Santos, Cesar Puello and Sergio Escalona were also suspended.
The feeling among the Red Sox is that Major League Baseball is going the right way by issuing the substantial suspensions.
"I think everybody sees the positives and understands even though it's a tough day, and tough national news, the game is being held to a higher standard of being clean," right-hander Jake Peavy said. "I love that we keep taking steps in the right direction."
Peavy, without naming anyone, said he felt victimized when he had to pitch against known drug users.
"I've given up my share of hits and runs to numerous people on that list," Peavy said. "If it didn't bother you, I don't know who you would be. One hundred percent knowing now, if you give up a home run or a run to someone who had some artificial help that you didn't, there's nothing we can do about it now. Just knowing the game is being held to a higher standard, I feel good about that."
Right-hander Ryan Dempster said he would not allow it to bother him.
"I just look at it as I'm trying to do my job," Dempster said. "I don't look at what other guys do, whether they're taking steroids or a growth hormone. I'm just trying to go out there and compete. I'm just focused on us as a team."
Dempster did believe that baseball is going in the right direction.
"I think we're making progress," he said. "It just shows how serious Major League Baseball is. They want this game to be as clean and pure as possible, and they're taking steps in that direction.
"It's easier said than done. They're trying to do the best they can to clean it up. The sad part is we have to talk about it, for who knows how long, and you guys have to cover it, for who knows how long. All the good things that are happening, and we have to spend time focusing on a negative part of the game."
Despite the suspensions, performance-enhancing drugs can still have an effect on this season.
"Jhonny Peralta is on that list and he hit a walk-off home run against us," Gomes said. "That's a game. Us and the Rays are a game apart. Every game counts."
The Red Sox are scheduled to face the Yankees again Aug. 16-18 at Fenway. Will Rodriguez being playing for New York then?
"I can't imagine being the pitcher, knowing this guy is on or has been on steroids," Gomes said. "It's not an equal battle. It doesn't make much sense that he's still playing. I hope our [union] dues don't go to his lawyer."
Manager John Farrell hinted that he wouldn't be happy if Rodriguez played against his Red Sox, but there wasn't much he could do about it.
"That's something completely out of our control," Farrell said. "It seems that everyone else involved accepted the penalties and took the suspensions. He's got an appeal process he can use."
Farrell took pride in the fact there was no one from the Boston organization included in the suspensions.
So did Dempster.
"It's a nice feeling," Dempster said. "It's nice for our fans and our organization and our front office to know our players aren't associated with it. We have a lot of guys here who are trying to do things the right way."
How much will the suspensions help to solve the problem?
"People are still going to say, 'Are there others out there?' Who knows?" outfielder Shane Victorino said.
"I don't care what the penalties are," Gomes added. "If it's first-time-caught, lifetime-ban, it doesn't affect me. I'm not using steroids. I do think the penalties [should be] steeper than they are."
Gene Duffey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.