Mike Trout tells WFAN drug cheats should be banned for life

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout looks on

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout looks on before a game against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. (Aug. 12, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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That unprecedented 211-game suspension Alex Rodriguez was handed last week? Not harsh enough, in Mike Trout's estimation.

The Angels star said Monday that all performance-enhancing drug cheats should be banned from baseball on the first offense.

"I think you should be out of the game if you get caught," the outfielder told WFAN radio Monday morning. "It takes away from the guys that are working hard every day and doing it all-natural."

Trout, 22, has emerged as one of the faces of baseball, so his comments resonate, but there wasn't unequivocal support of them within his clubhouse.

Teammate Josh Hamilton said he agrees with Trout in wanting to rid the game of PEDs, but couldn't support a one-and-done punishment, given that he has benefited from reprieves.

"Fortunately, I've been given second chances, but for different reasons," said Hamilton, who revived his career in 2008 during an ongoing battle with drug and alcohol addiction. He signed a $125-million contract with the Angels before this season. "I think people get caught up in things and make mistakes."

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Hamilton suggested the league's current drug policy is fair and its penalties stiff enough. Nelson Cruz, Hamilton's former Rangers teammate and close friend, was among the 13 players suspended last week after the Biogenesis probe, along with Rodriguez.

"I'd say 95 percent of the guys in the league want an even playing field," Hamilton said, "and MLB and the Players Association have done a good job of getting together and, for the most part, getting things under control and weeding guys out."

Trout's comments came just hours before his team faced the Yankees, with Rodriguez, who in 2009 admitted to PED use in 2001-03, and last week was issued a lengthy suspension for his alleged part in the Biogenesis scandal. Rodriguez is playing while he appeals the suspension.

Trout's teammate Albert Pujols recently was accused of steroid use by former Cardinals player Jack Clark. Pujols has threatened legal action.

Trout was reluctant to expound on his earlier comments before Monday night's game but did say the recent drug suspensions were "a positive step for MLB."

"For young guys like me, [Bryce] Harper, [Manny] Machado, [Yasiel] Puig, guys that go out there and play hard," Trout said, "it's good for the game."

Trout, an All-Star in both of his big-league seasons, entered the game hitting .330 with 20 homers and 26 stolen bases, and his .996 OPS was third best in the majors.

Chris Iannetta, the Angels assistant team representative, said he was "proud of Mike," but suggested even such a severe punishment wouldn't eradicate PED use in sports.

"There's been debate about harsher penalties, but I think there is always going to be a scenario where someone is going to try," Iannetta said. "There's still always a chance of someone taking the risk."

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