ST. LOUIS (AP) — Matt Holliday has been an outspoken critic of players who have used performance-enhancing drugs.
He is willing to forgive and forget when it comes to Jhonny Peralta, his new St. Louis Cardinals teammate.
The Cardinals’ new shortstop was suspended last summer along as part of Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis clinic. Peralta served a 50-game drug suspension and returned to the Tigers at the end of the regular season before signing a $53 million, four-year contract with St. Louis in November.
“I am against PEDs and always will be,” Holliday said Monday at the Cardinals’ winter fan festival. “But I also am a forgiving person and he served his suspension. That’s the rules of the game. I’m happy to have him as a teammate.”
St. Louis wanted an offensive upgrade over Pete Kozma at shortstop and they went with Peralta, who hit .303 with 30 doubles, 11 home runs and 55 RBIs in 107 games with the Tigers. He hit .352 against left-handers.
General manager John Mozeliak knew there would be some criticism about Peralta signing with the club.
Mozeliak, who wanted to add a shortstop without trading pitching, consulted with Holliday before making the transaction. Holliday endorsed the move despite his history of being critical about users.
Holliday said he wasn’t comfortable discussing details of his conversation with Mozeliak.
“Mo just called and said this is what we’re going to do,” he said. “It’s not like he asked me if it was OK.”
To show he was willing to let bygones be bygones, Holliday texted Peralta to welcome him to the club. As far as he is concerned, Peralta’s PEDs use is in the past. Holliday doesn’t think Peralta owes any more explanations.
“He took the suspension, served it,” Holliday said. “His teammates in Detroit welcomed him back. I don’t think it’s necessarily something he has to address. If he wants to, that’s his prerogative. But I don’t think, as teammates, it’s anything we expect.”
Peralta said he understands he has plenty to prove to his new teammates.
He also expressed remorse for his mistake and wants to move ahead.
“I’m trying to put it in the past,” Peralta said. “I’m trying to look forward and forget about it. I know I can play baseball naturally. I have to show people that I can do it and that I can help. I’m going to try to do the best I can do and try to help the Cardinals go to the World Series one more time and win.”
Peralta endured the consequences of his decision to use PEDs. He acknowledged he wasn’t even sure whether the Tigers would want him back after the suspension. He returned for the final three games of the regular season and then batted .333 (11-for-33) with one home run and six RBIs in 10 postseason games.
“It was hard after the suspension, but I tried to be positive,” Peralta said. “I talked to the Detroit Tigers — the team, the general manager — and they gave me the opportunity to come back. I said to them that I had to show that I can play and I can help.”
Holliday said he does not think he is more outspoken about drugs in baseball than anyone else. He just believes the game is better off clean.
“The guys that aren’t using are against it,” Holliday said. “We want a level playing field. Everybody wants a level playing field that’s not using it.”