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Tigers: Peralta contrite, but must pay for mistake

The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- He broke the rules, had to pay, but Jhonny Peralta's contrition makes it easier for his Tigers' teammates to forgive him.

But Detroit players are pretty unified in wanting PEDs cleaned out of baseball.

"Torii Hunter said it best," Justin Verlander said Monday after the news that Peralta had been suspended for 50 games was announced. "Everyone makes mistakes. (Peralta) is my brother.

"We fight and bleed and sweat together on the baseball field. If my brother makes a mistake, and especially if he owns up to it and serves the time, I don't see how you can hold a grudge."

Peralta said in a statement released through the Tigers he made a mistake in the spring of 2012.

"I apologize to everyone that I have hurt as a result of my mistake, including my teammates, the Tigers' organization, the great fans in Detroit, Major League Baseball, and my family. I take full responsibility for my actions, have no excuses for my lapse in judgment and I accept my suspension.

"I love the fans, my teammates and this organization and my greatest punishment is knowing that I have let so many good people down. I promise to do everything possible to try and earn back the respect that I have lost."

While Peralta's apology might make it easier for some in the organization to forgive him, there are some who remain outspoken in their indignation for those who have been suspended.

"It's pretty apparent how I feel toward cheaters," said Max Scherzer, who was vocal in his condemnation of Ryan Braun when the Milwaukee outfielder was suspended last month. "With Jhonny, it's disappointing. It really is."

Peralta's reputation in the clubhouse and the Detroit community doesn't give him a free pass, either. And it is apparent that his "lapse in judgment" could haunt him for some time.

"Very mixed emotions, very mixed feelings," GM Dave Dombrowski said in a pregame interview after the suspensions were announced. "Here is someone who has done a lot of good things for our organization, is a really good person, has conducted himself well and has been a key performer for our club.

"But he broke the rules and has to pay a price for it. We support that totally. Our organization will move on from there. We've protected ourselves with the addition of Jose Iglesias."

The idea that he admitted his transgression will help some of his teammates move forward.

"He took ownership of what happened," Scherzer said. "He showed complete ownership, and that's something that I think is good for the game."

Hunter echoed Scherzer's feelings.

"I hate that he chose that," he said. "But he's being punished for it. He's going to serve his 50 games. I'm pretty sure he won't do it again. If you know Jhonny, and a lot of people don't know Jhonny, but if you know Jhonny, awesome guy. Awesome guy. He just made a mistake. Now he's going to pay for it."

Peralta's admission and acceptance of his suspension comes at a time when the Tigers are battling the Cleveland Indians and the resurgent Kansas City Royals for the American League Central Division lead. The Tigers scored four runs in the ninth to defeat the Indians on Monday, 4-2, but most of the talk was about losing Peralta.

"The whole team feels sad about Jhonny, because he's a good player," Omar Infante said. "He's a professional player. I feel bad."

While Infante and Peralta's teammates feel bad, they realize the game must be cleaned up and the steroid and PED eras must come to an end.

"My focus now," Scherzer said, "is to work with the players, work with the union, work with everybody involved to find a fairer system that correctly punishes players to find a way that closes some of these loopholes so players don't feel the need to cheat.

"I really hope there are stiffer penalties. Every player in here wants stiffer penalties. I think the union is on board about that. I think MLB is on board about that. I think that's something that would be a positive thing for the game."

Peralta's suspension ends with three regular season games remaining. But there's no minor league games for him to prepare for a return and it would be a real challenge for him to play in that final series without any kind of real-game preparation.

"That's not something we're going to tackle at this point," Dombrowski said. "That's way down the road."
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