Ryan Braun urine collector endorsed by Cubs
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org March 1, 2012 10:02PM
Despite the Ryan Braun case, Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson says that, for the most part, players trust Major League Baseball’s drug-testing process. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images
Updated: April 3, 2012 8:20AM
MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs might be closer to Ryan Braun’s controversial drug-testing case than they want to be if the Milwaukee slugger’s successful argument against baseball’s specimen-collector holds much weight.
Dino Laurenzi Jr., the collector in Braun’s case, is also assigned by Major League Baseball to the Cubs.
Braun had his 50-game suspension for a positive test overturned by an independent arbitrator. His attorney called into question the urine specimen’s chain of custody after Laurenzi took nearly two days to get the specimen to FedEx for same-day delivery. He had stored it at his home after collecting it on a Saturday during the playoffs.
‘‘Just from knowing Dino the three years I’ve been here, he’s been nothing but professional,’’ Cubs infielder Jeff Baker said. ‘‘He’s been very, very thorough. I have no concerns and no qualms.’’
MLB and Laurenzi claim he followed proper protocol during the process. But how much can players trust Laurenzi or the successful process given the outcome of Braun’s appeal?
‘‘If you would have found out that your samples are going to somebody’s house and hanging around for two days, obviously, the more the sample is away from the laboratory, the more bad things can happen to it as far as tampering situations,’’ outfielder Reed Johnson said. ‘‘But, for the most part, I think guys really trust the process.
‘‘You see them seal it, and the stickers they put all over everything, and then make sure that your number matches up to the number that’s on your sample, slash your case, slash your other case that the case goes in. … If you witnessed it firsthand and saw all the detail that goes into making sure things are safe as far as not having a false positive or anything like that, you wouldn’t be too worried about it as a player.’’
Laurenzi, whose integrity was questioned Thursday in a statement by one of Braun’s attorneys, issued his own statement this week, which read in part:
‘‘At no point did I tamper in any way with the samples. Given the lateness of the hour that I completed my collections [on Oct. 1], there was no FedEx office located within 50 miles of Miller Park that would ship packages that day or Sunday. Therefore, the earliest that the specimens could be shipped was Monday, October 3. In that circumstance, [testing program requirements] instructed collectors … that they should safeguard the samples in their homes until FedEx is able to immediately ship the sample to the laboratory, rather than having the samples sit for one day or more at a local FedEx office.’’
Several Cubs said they trusted Laurenzi.
‘‘I’m not worried that it’s the same guy,’’ outfielder Alfonso Soriano said, backing Johnson’s thoughts on the seals and safeguards involved in the process. ‘‘I’m not worried because I know what I take. It doesn’t matter who takes the sample. If you don’t take nothing, he can take [the specimen] home for a week, and nothing will come out.’’
‘‘There’s been some guys coming up from the minor leagues that you might be concerned about, but Dino, the way he carries himself professionally, the way he carries himself personally — it’s unfortunate that his name’s out there involved [this way].
‘‘I have no problems taking a drug test with him. None.’’