Sox players support stiffer PED penalties

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Major League Baseball Players Association and MLB agreed to tougher penalties for first-time offenders testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

The new penalty boosts the first-time offense suspension from 50 to 80 games and the second from 100 to 162, and also leaves players ineligible for postseason play for the season in which they are caught.

The handful of Red Sox players asked about the changes Saturday morning were overwhelmingly in favor of them.

"I like it," Jon Lester said. "Obviously, the 50 games wasn't enough to maybe make these guys think twice about it. Hopefully 80 games takes enough money out of these guys' pockets. You're still always going to have somebody who tries to beat the system. It doesn't matter if you put in a lifetime ban on the first offense.

"There's going to be guys who are going to try to get the run up on somebody. I think that's just kind of baseball. I think everybody's trying to look for that edge to get better. Hopefully this will weed out 99 percent of the guys."

Will Middlebrooks, the team's player-union representative, agreed.

"We go about it the right way, and we want to compete against guys who have done that," Middlebrooks said. "When you get to the World Series, you want to be competing against guys who have done it the right way."

Craig Breslow and Burke Badenhop, who each have been player-union representatives in the past, said they like the long-term ramifications of the increased penalties.

"I think guys were not entirely comfortable with players using them, getting caught and then playing in the postseason," Breslow said. "It was unclear if they were still benefiting from whatever they were taking."

Said Badenhop: "I'm a big fan, as a tall, skinny guy who struggles to put any weight on, to make the game cleaner and everything. It's great for baseball. I was a little kid growing up back when all the other stuff was happening. I think the last thing you want would be for that to happen again. It'll be the first step in making sure the game stays clean."