Cubs pitcher Villanueva wants to get juicers out
By GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter August 6, 2013 9:50PM
Updated: August 7, 2013 12:01AM
PHILADELPHIA — Right-hander Carlos Villanueva said he didn’t sleep well Monday night, even after a rare day off to hang out with his wife and chill.
“All day [Monday], my wife’s asking me what’s wrong,” said Villanueva, who spent much of the day watching reports of the Biogenesis suspensions on TV and on the Web. And seething.
“To say I’m upset about it would be an understatement,” he said. “We’re tired of people who think they can get away with it. And still, right now, the rewards outweigh the risk. Most of these guys are going to be suspended 50 games, but they’ll still get their multimillion-dollar deals next year.”
Villanueva, one of four players on the union’s executive committee, wasn’t surprised by the 13 suspensions announced Monday — added to the Ryan Braun suspension a few weeks earlier. But he says the magnitude of the mass penalties only underscores the need for stiffer penalties.
As first baseman Anthony Rizzo said, “It’s good. You want all these guys weeded out of the game. But they got to play almost a full season, so serving 50 games is kind of getting away with it, to be honest.”
And Villanueva plans to lobby for that when the union meets over the winter, possibly taking proposals to MLB instead of waiting for the commissioner’s office to make such demands.
“We’re going to try to make it as hard as possible for those guys to cheat the system,” Villanueva said, “because the majority of us are angry.”
Villanueva might be the one Cub who has a right to take the suspensions personally, considering that suspended Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz homered off him in a game in April.
He has less of an issue with that one — he beat the Rangers that day — than the two-run shot Cruz hit off him last year in a 2-1 loss when Villanueva pitched for Toronto in his final season before free agency.
“That one cost me money,” he said. “That’s one more win I could’ve had.”
All else being equal, if that homer was turned into an out, Villanueva’s 7-7, 4.16 season is 8-6, 4.01.
“It sucks because I know Nelson,’’ Villanueva said. ‘‘I know he’s a great person. But it’s hard to respect him as a player when he’s cheating.”
Players throughout the clubhouse seemed to agree with Rizzo’s and Villanueva’s sentiments.
“What you want to see is guys that apologize but yet confess,” Cubs player rep Darwin Barney said. “A lot of guys are apologizing but not confessing.
“I think top to bottom at this level, everyone wants PEDs out of the game, and I think we’re on the right track.”
Players say the age of steroids needs to become a bygone era once and for all.
“Whatever it takes,” Rizzo said.
Said Barney: “You wonder if you would have done it [before MLB banned PEDs] if the guy next to you trying to take your job is openly doing it. You always think about your family and your kids. And you never know.
“So I see both sides of it. But the fact of the matter is, guys like me don’t have jobs if steroids are part of this game. I think a lot of us feel the same way.”