When Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli joined Alex Rodriguez as one of the players linked to the alleged banned-substance-dealing Biogenesis clinic in Miami, two thoughts came immediately to mind.
The first was that performance-enhancing drugs have never had a worse advertisement than Cervelli's offensive production. The second was whether it would impact the stirring catching battle that's on tap for Tampa in spring training.
It seems that the answer to the first is that he might not have been using PEDs at all. Cervelli issued a response via Twitter saying that he consulted the clinic while recovering from a foot injury and used only legal substances, an answer he'll presumably supplement next Wednesday when he meets the media to discuss the whole matter.
That reply from Cervelli also addresses the second thought. Absent any positive tests, Major League Baseball would need to prove to that Cervelli obtained or used banned substances through other means and, counting appeals, that's a process that won't be wrapped up by the start of the season.
So Cervelli will be around to battle Chris Stewart for the starting job with Austin Romine looking on from his perch as starter in waiting. Unless, of course, Romine winds up playing so well that the Yankees can't resist giving him the job over two guys who have pretty well shown they aren't starters over the course of their careers.
His reply guarantees something else as well. It guarantees that we'll be hearing about Dr. Anthony Bosch and his lab experiments for quite a while.
Because Cervelli and Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun admitted their names are in the clinic's books because they conducted business with Bosch, A-Rod's denial of ever having anything to do with the clinic or the doctor is a lot shakier than it was when he first said it. That means more poking, prodding, looking and searching for a smoking gun by a lot of interested parties.
As long as this case remains one of names scratched on ledgers and date books, there's going to be questions about who took what and when they took it. Thanks to A-Rod and Cervelli, the Yankees are going to be on the receiving end of a lot of those questions.
Will it be distracting to the team? Since they've dealt with it for years, we'll guess it won't be significantly different. For the rest of us, it's a grind without any end.
The start of blood testing for human growth hormone in Major League Baseball this year bolsters things moving forward, but the recent past keeps getting murkier and murkier. It doesn't look any better no matter how long we've been living in it.