COMMENTARY| Clostebol is a synthetic anabolic androgenic steroid, and that doesn't seem to leave a lot of ambiguity in terms of understanding that by definition, it would be banned by Major League Baseball. Philadelphia Phillies' 23-year old infielder Freddy Galvis was suspended 50 games for testing positive for Clostebol and briefly addressed the subject at Brighthouse Networks Field Sunday, as the Phillies concluded their first weekend of full squad spring training workouts.
Speaking of ambiguity, here's a breakdown of Galvis' statement Sunday.
Galvis:"It was tough, man."
What exactly was tough? Was taking a substance containing Clostebol when it's an obviously banned PED tough? Or was getting caught tough? Keep in mind that whenever I address the subject of PEDs in sports, I'm of the opinion that if something can be legally purchased at the local GNC, I have absolutely no problem with an athlete taking it. Heck, if it leads to more spectacular performances then my entertainment dollar is validated. I think if you put something in your body that may be detrimental to your long term health, whether legal or illegal, then it's your risk. I think the list of substances banned and classified as PEDs is a tad bit extreme. That being sad, baseball has clearly defined it's drug policy, and in my opinion, if you fail it under anything but freakish circumstances, you are too audaciously stupid to be allowed in the league. It doesn't matter what anyone thinks about the policies, you comply or wave bye-bye.
Galvis: "Sometimes you don't do stuff and you pay for it. Like I said before, that's life and you move on."
This confusing statement would have us assume that Galvis took a supplement of some sort that contained traces of Clostebol and didn't have the supplement vetted before taking it. In this day and age, I wouldn't take so much as an aspirin as a major-league ballplayer without having the league put in writing that what I'm taking is legal by league standards. They should have a form, a web site, a guy that sits in baseball's offices whose job is to answer inquiries from players on whether or not a substance is legal to consume. Of course, they don't have that guy that I know of, because perhaps they assume these million-dollar athletes would be conscientious enough to act like adults and protect their own livelihoods.
Galvis: "Sometimes when you don't do nothing and they blame you that's bad stuff but they have rules and you have to follow the rules. But that's in the past right now. Right now I'm focusing on 2013"
Galvis' shaky English notwithstanding, what irks me even more about this statement is that it seems like Galvis still doesn't take any culpability for his error. And make no mistake, it was his error. But he did his time by the letter of the law, which didn't matter much anyway since he broke his back and would have been sitting the second half of 2012 regardless. He has now earned the right to focus on 2013, that much is certain. But just how much did the inauspicious conclusion to his rookie season affect his standing with the Phillies?
Galvis was pressed into service at second base, away from his natural position of shortstop, in the first half absence of Chase Utley last season. Defensively, he was nothing short of brilliant. If anything, the organization knows that they have a sterling glove to put up the middle when either Utley or Jimmy Rollins departs for greener pastures or a rocking chair. The problem is, with an outfield that borders deplorable, a lack of can't miss offensively gifted youth and an aging catcher, the Phillies may not be able to afford to play Galvis everyday.
Why? Because Rollins and Utley are two of your biggest run producers and to keep it short and sweet, Galvis simply can not hit. In a small sample of 200 plate appearances in 2012, Galvis hit .226 with 3 homers and 24 RBIs. His OPS was a paltry .617. But he brings speed to the lineup you might say? He brought speed to the tune of exactly 0 stolen bases and his Runs from Baserunning (Rbasser at Baseball Reference) also equalled 0. Again, this is a small sample size, but Galvis has never shown signs of progressing or developing into anything other than this offensively. And there is actually a contingent of fans who would get rid of Rollins tomorrow and insert Galvis into the starting lineup, which dumbfounds me.
Galvis seems to be vying for a bench role on the 2013 Phillies. With Utley's gimpy knees and Rollins' escalating age, he could be valuable in allowing the two starting middle infielders to get some occasional rest. As for the Phillies' long-term plans for Galvis' -- they're about as ambiguous as his statements Sunday.
Pete Lieber is a freelance writer who has covered the Phillies for more than three years and followed the club since the Phillies traded Jay Johnstone and Bobby Brown to the New York Yankees for Rawley Eastwick. Follow him on Twitter at @Lieber14.