Cubs call Braun collector a pro
Several Chicago Cubs players spoke Friday in support of the man who collected Ryan Braun's urine sample, despite the fact his handling of the sample led to Braun's 50-game suspension being overturned by an arbitrator.
The legal team for the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder and NL MVP argued in a grievance hearing that the sample collector, Dino Laurenzi Jr., did not follow the procedures specified in baseball's drug agreement, which states the urine sample should be taken to a FedEx office on the day it is collected "absent unusual circumstances."
Arbitrator Shyam Das last week overturned Braun's positive test, freeing Braun of his suspension.
Laurenzi Jr. also is assigned by Major League Baseball to collect samples from the Cubs.
"Who knows what was going on with (Braun's) situation, but for the most part the drug tester that we worked with ... we all know him as well, and he handles his business pretty professionally. And I think that everyone in this clubhouse would agree with me," Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson said Friday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000.
Laurenzi issued a statement Tuesday defending his actions, saying he never tampered with Braun's sample. Laurenzi collected it from Braun on Oct. 1, a Saturday, and said he placed it in a Rubbermaid container in his basement office because "there was no FedEx office located within 50 miles of Miller Park that would ship packages that day or Sunday." Laurenzi took it to FedEx on Monday.
Johnson, a nine-year veteran, said he trusts the specimen collection process.
"The process to me is something a lot of the guys in the clubhouse really trust," Johnson said. "Obviously, you don't want your sample going to somebody's house and sitting around for a couple of days, but you know that that process of them taking your sample and sealing it inside a case, stickers over it and that's inside a bag, stickers over that and that's inside a sealed box, stickers over that.
"When you see the process and the detail that goes into that type of drug testing, you really do feel safe that nothing is going to happen."
Cubs infielder Jeff Baker also vouched for Laurenzi, and he said he's never considered the possibility of something out of the ordinary happening.
"No, I'm comfortable, I know what I put in my body so I'm comfortable with that," he said. "If anything else shows up on that test, it's not going to happen for me personally.
"I'm not worried about the process. You see that the stuff is sealed, the whole nine yards. The process has been what it is and has been done now for how many years? And now on top of that we have blood testing. We took those the other day so I'm not really concerned about the process. The process works and I'm comfortable with the way it goes."
Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano said he would not be worried about his sample regardless of who is collecting it.
"I'm not worried that it's the same guy," Soriano told the Sun-Times. "'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."
Braun's attorney, David Cornwell, issued a statement on Thursday criticizing Laurenzi.
"Ryan Braun presented a winning defense in the forum that counted. The landmark decision in Ryan's favor was based on the evidence and the plain meaning of the words in baseball's joint drug program," Cornwell said in the statement. "The collector's attempt to re-litigate his conduct is inappropriate, and his efforts will only be persuasive to those who do not understand the evidence or the rules.
"Ryan Braun was properly vindicated. Both Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association should be applauded because their joint program worked."
Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president for labor relations, said last week the league "vehemently disagrees with the decision" and called the collector "extremely experienced," adding he "acted in a professional and appropriate manner."
ESPNChicago.com's Doug Padilla contributed to this report.