Standard operating procedure in baseball has become that when a guy gets busted for using PEDs, his teammates lightly defend him to the media, say he made a mistake and that he'll be welcomed back to the team with open arms once his suspension ends. Sincere or not, that is just how the PED game works.
Well, Padres catcher doesn't want any part of it. With fellow catcher Yasmani Grandal due back from his suspension for PEDs later this month, Hundley let it be known that he is none to happy with the situation, especially if it means losing his job. When speaking with Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Hundley made his feelings about Grandal known:
You want to talk about a guy who is unproven and had a couple good months on steroid, you go ahead. I've got a job to do.
That unproven catcher hit .297/.394/.469 over 226 plate appearances in his MLB debut last season, a debut that only happened because Hundley tanked with a .157/.219/.245 slash line before being demoted in favor of Grandal. Even with his wretched performance in 2012, it seems pretty clear that Hundley feels as if he lost his job to a guy who was cheating. It is only because Grandal popped positive for elevated testosterone and was subsequently linked to the scandal-plagued Biogenesis clinic that allowed Hundley to reassume his spot atop the catcher depth chart in San Diego.
To his credit, Hundley has made the most out of his opportunity, hitting .270/.302/.450. That's pretty good, especially in Petco Park, but even Hundley realizes it may not be good enough to prevent him from being relegated to back-up duties once Grandal's suspension ends. Losing his job again to Cheater McCheaterpants is not going to make him happy.
The traditional competitive jock response to that concern would be to tell Nick to just outplay Grandal and he won't have a problem, but this situation raises issues on a more macro level. One of the big concerns about PED use is that it breeds more PED use and the Hundley-Grandal issue is a perfect example of that. Hundley, who is presumably clean, is a good player who lost his job to Grandal who is a better player but a better player that uses PEDs. In this case and many others, the cheater has prospered and the good guy is getting screwed. If that situation happens enough, no matter what level of competition, it sends the wrong message to players. It is a message that maybe the clean-cut player might be better off compromising his princples and 'roiding up not so that he can get over on his competition but rather so his competition doesn't get the leg up on him.
Hundley may not have even meant to make that point and was merely concerned with self-preservation, but it is a valid one. Speaking out so critically against his teammate might also be the best defense against PED use as well. MLB has their tests, but those tests are mainly best at catching PED users who are too stupid to beat the tests. If MLB really wants to curb steroid use, their best weapon is self-enforcement by the players.
Players like Hundley can make it clear to their peers that getting busted for PED use is not some minor but forgiveable sin. Shaming that player both privately in the clubhouse and publicly in the media can be far greater deterrents than a 50-game suspension, especially for fringier players who are willing to gamble on that suspension if the reward is getting enough of a performance boost to actually reach the majors.
So as self-serving and, let's be honest, catty as it was, Hundley should be applauded for taking his teammate to task. Clubhouse solidarity be damned, Hundley has made it clear that Grandal will have to work hard and clean to earn back the respect of at least one teammate and indirectly that similar transgressions by other players on the roster will not be tolerated.