ATLANTA - Mets captain David Wright stood grim-faced in his corner of the clubhouse, just the latest to be touched by the stain of performance-enhancing drugs. He barely bothered to hide his frustration in the wake of closer Jenrry Mejia's 80-game suspension.
"As much as it hurts, as much as we love Jenrry as a teammate, you make a mistake, you need to be punished," Wright said after the Mets' 5-3 loss to the Braves.
Once again, the occupants of a big-league clubhouse found themselves walking an awkward line. They supported baseball's PED policy and expressed surprise at a lingering willingness to violate it. And as they did that, an underlying tension emerged.
In a statement, Mejia painted himself in a passive light, saying, "I can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system."
But his teammates referred to Mejia as an actor in his own fate.
"He made a bad decision," Dillon Gee said. Wright echoed the sentiment, noting that baseball's drug policies have been "discussed at length."
"I'm not sure what more we can do as a players association or in baseball to maybe educate everybody," he said. "But . . . there's always going to be guys that try it out and try to beat the system.
"Once Jenrry serves his punishment and comes back, we'll welcome him and do whatever we can to make him feel a part of this team. But . . . he messed up and needs to be punished.''
Wright also said, "Not only do you cost yourself 80 games and don't get paid, but you're hurting everybody in here, letting down your teammates."
Mejia's loss leaves an already-battered Mets bullpen even thinner. It's a blow for a team that has aspirations of reaching the playoffs.
"Certainly this is a big disappointment," manager Terry Collins said. "I look at it as I understand everything about it, I really do. But there's 24 other guys in that locker room and we need him too. That's why it's disappointing."
Wright stopped short of saying that Mejia owes the team an apology, but he didn't mince words about how the closer's actions have impacted the team.
"He's definitely let his teammates down," Wright said. "We're disappointed in him."