Expect swift justice in Biogenesis scandal

Both MLB and players union want to put latest drug scandal behind them quickly

Here's hoping Dave Dombrowski, Jon Daniels and Billy Beane didn't put too much stock into the headline on ESPN.com last Tuesday. Unless you're a team like the Red Sox, Rays, Orioles and Indians.

Then you hope reports the Biogenesis suspensions won't take players off the field until 2014 have lulled them into a false sense of confidence.

Will the Tigers, Rangers and Athletics make contingency plans to replace Jhonny Peralta, Nelson Cruz and Bartolo Colon?

Along with Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez, those are the three most significant players caught up in the performance enhancing drug investigation of the Biogenesis clinic in Miami. They play key roles for World Series contenders and, despite widespread belief, are still in serious danger of receiving lengthy timeouts down the stretch and possibly into the postseason.

Following briefings Commissioner Bud Selig and the players union's Michael Weiner made to the Baseball Writers Association of America, ESPN and other outlets detailed how the appeals process would delay the serving of suspensions until the start of next season. But MLB and the union are anxious to move on from Biogenesis as quickly as possible, and there will be a deal made at some time in the next month that will trigger immediate suspensions.

Unless Selig is extremely heavy-handed when he metes out sanctions, with suspensions of more than 50 games for first-time offenders, the likelihood is there will be very few appeals.

Maybe none. Maybe just Braun, who claims he was named in the clinic's records only because his lawyers turned to Anthony Bosch for expertise in defending him from a positive PED test in October 2011.

There were reports that more than 20 players could be suspended. That number seems high, at this point. A more likely number is about a dozen players, including some minor leaguers. But the case against that dozen players — including Padres All-Star Everth Cabrera, Mariners catcher/DH Jesus Montero and Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli — is expected to be ironclad, with multiple sources and documentation supporting Bosch's naming of names.

The union isn't going to go to the mat fighting for guilty players. There's almost no support for the Biogenesis guys among baseball's rank and file.

Weiner and his staff know almost as much about MLB's case at this point as Selig's staff does, so the union shouldn't be surprised when MLB wraps it up and takes the findings to the union. That should happen within the next three weeks, and when it does there will be a brief negotiation over the length and scope of the suspensions.

If MLB comes in with sanctions Weiner considers reasonable, the union will recommend players accept their punishment. The players have the option to appeal but to do so would be to make themselves pariahs within their fraternity and that's something few players have been willing to do through the years.

Melky Cabrera, Yasmani Grandal and Colon are interesting cases, as they served suspensions from positive tests in 2012. They probably won't get hit again but that could change if the timing of their documented dealings with Biogenesis doesn't match up with their dirty samples.

How will the Rangers feel if they lose Cruz, their RBI leader, while Colon isn't suspended? He could make three second-half starts against the Rangers, who don't want to go into the playoffs as a wild card after being one-and-done a year ago.

Peralta has started 373 games at shortstop for the Tigers the last three seasons, including 88 of 94 this year. His backup, Ramon Santiago, hit .160 before the All-Star break.

The Tigers might want to explore shortstop options (including the White Sox's Alexei Ramirez), just as the Rangers should find a way to add a right-hander hitter or two (with the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano and the White Sox's Alex Rios among the alternatives, along with Mr. Clean, the recently signed Manny Ramirez).

This is going to get greasy, no matter what last week's headlines said.

Welcome back: Greg Walker figured to be very busy with Jason Heyward and the Upton brothers when the Braves arrived at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday but the former White Sox hitting coach received a strong endorsement from Freddie Freeman at the All-Star Game.

The tag-team of Walker and Scott Fletcher is the third hitting coach situation Freeman has had in his short big-league career. He had worked previously with Terry Pendleton and Larry Parrish but has turned a corner this season, hitting .308 with an .854 OPS at the All-Star break.

"He has had a big upside for me,'' said Freeman, referring to Walker, who declined an offer to return to the White Sox after 2011. "He works hard. He understands our players, inside and out. … It took a little while to get to know him and Scott. They were the third (group of hitting coaches) I had had in three years but it didn't take long to see these guys are great. Greg is the first guy in the cage every day.''

The Braves led the NL with 114 home runs at the All-Star break and were third in scoring. But the room for improvement shows up in a .250 team batting average, including .243 with runners in scoring position. They are trending upward in July, hitting .277 in their first 13 games.

Life well led: It has been said before and can't be repeated often enough. Minnie Minoso deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, both for his skills on the field and the pioneering road he traveled to his great run with the White Sox in the 1950s.

An East Lakeview resident, the 87-year-old Minoso will have to settle for other honors as the Hall of Fame has bypassed him in a variety of ways, most recently by the Veterans Committee that selected Ron Santo for the 2012 induction.

He's picking up one of those honors this week — the Roberto Clemente Award for Sports Excellence that the National Council of La Raza is presenting at the organization's gala in New Orleans.

Minoso won't be the only Chicagoan in attendance. First lady Michelle Obama is expected to deliver the keynote speech. That will be a fun night.

Leave some room: Should the White Sox trade Rios, there's a reasonable chance they will wind up with the Diamondbacks Jason Kubel or another veteran outfielder as part of their dealings. But like the Cubs, they also will have a chance this winter to bring Curtis Granderson home to Chicago.

Granderson, who has played only eight games this year after being beaned in spring training and then shortly after his return in May, will be a free agent at the end of the year. He had great seasons in 2011 and '12 (combined 84 home runs and 225 RBIs) but could sit for a while on the market as teams try to determine his value at age 33 and beyond.

The New York Post's Joel Sherman spoke to executives this week who said he could be more likely to stay with the Yankees since his injury-plagued season will hurt his value. Granderson could be a fit on either side of Chicago, especially assuming the Cubs have subtracted Soriano. He's a great example for younger players.

progers@tribune.com

Twitter @ChiTribRogers

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