South Bay reaction: Disappointment

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champ“Chris didn’t do it in high school, I’m sure.” When Donnels was briefly with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he and teammate Todd Hundley apparently were supplied with performance-enhancing substances in 2000 by former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, the Mitchell Report said. Mitchell said Benard’s admission came from his former San Francisco Giants manager, Dusty Baker, who described himself as “close” to Benard and told Mitchell’s investigators that he was “completely shocked.” South Bay high school players expressed frustration about the findings in the report and disenchantment with boyhood heroes like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Miguel Tejada, Andy Pettitte, Eric Gagne and Paul Lo Duca. “It’s a form of cheating,” said Banning’s Michael Ponce, a catcher and first baseman for the baseball team and a quarterback for the football team. “It makes me feel bad because I know I’ve worked hard, and it got me down because it means you have to take steroids to be good. I don’t like it.” Release of the Mitchell Report reverberated across the South Bay on Thursday as coaches and athletes learned that a pair of local baseball standouts were on the list. Among the 85 ballplayers mentioned in connection with steroid use were former South High and Loyola Marymount star Chris Donnels and former Harbor College stalwart Marvin Benard. Jerry McIlvaine, a 25-year coaching veteran in the South Bay who coached Donnels on South Torrance’s 1984 CIF title team, said he was surprised to learn about Donnels’ involvement. “But here he is, the All-American kid who’s going to (LMU) and he’s a great player,” McIlvaine said. “But all of a sudden, in order to compete with the other guys who are using, you have to get bigger and stronger. It’s a crime that the ones who don’t do it are going to lose their jobs to the ones who do. Banning pitcher and shortstop Frankie Sixtos said he would get in the face of any teammate found to be using steroids. “I lost a lot of respect for the players named,” said Sixtos, whose older brother Rafael fought his way up from Banning and Harbor College to the minor leagues. “They lowered our chances of making it, for the ones who are doing it the right way. Ever since I heard about the steroids, I see the game differently. There’s no more fair play.” Like McIlvaine, other local coaches said they understood why so many major leaguers turned to performance-enhancing substances. “When your living depends on performance and you think one guy is cheating, it’s natural for the other guys to want to be able to compete with them,” said Mira Costa baseball coach Mike Neilly. “It’s something that needs to be cleaned up and addressed by baseball.” John Gonzalez, a coach at Banning High School in Wilmington, said the pressure to perform may be a mitigating factor. “People expect great things from these athletes,” Gonzalez said. “They go to games and they want to see 450-foot bombs, not the singles hitters. They want to see the guys throwing 93-95 miles per hour, not the guys throwing 85-86. “It’s unfortunate, but with all the big contracts and the money, a lot of guys feel they have to do it.” One local coach said money is the driving factor for struggling athletes who turn to steroids. “If you’re in the minor leagues and you’re not making it to the big leagues because you’re not hitting 20 homers a year, your career is on hold,” said the coach, who asked that his name not be used. “If you make it to the big leagues, you get a guaranteed salary and maybe millions of dollars a year. You’re financially set for life. “Do you think you would be tempted to use steroids?” McIlvaine said perhaps baseball should take a cue from horse racing to combat performance enhancers. “When a horse has a good day, they test it. Every winner is tested,” McIlvaine said. “Maybe if Barry Bonds hits three homers in a game, you test him afterward. But if he strikes out four times, you don’t test.” Palos Verdes coach Evan Fuginaga said he agreed with Mitchell that baseball needs to focus on prevention rather than punishment. “It’s better to look forward rather than backward,” Fuginaga said. “The focus needs to be on the way we test, not on who needs to be punished. These are guys that a lot of people look up to. In some ways, it makes you ask where we are as a society.” tony.ciniglio@dailybreeze.com160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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