Anchor Marco Werman talks with Sandy Alderson. He's just been appointed by Major League Baseball to tackle problems in the Dominican Republic, such as the use of performance-enhancing drugs, and players who lie about their age to get recruited by Major League Baseball teams.
MARCO WERMAN: Baseball could use a helpful person to straighten out the mess in the Dominican Republic. For years the DR has been a rich source of talent for Major League Baseball clubs. Team roster include more players from the Dominican Republic than from any other country outside the United States. But recruiting players from the DR has also been a source of trouble for baseball. There are problems with performance enhancing drugs and with players lying about their age. Now Major League Baseball has hired Sandy Alderson to try and tackle these issues. He's a former MLB Executive Vice President who's worked with the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics. So set the scene for us Mr. Alderson, how many players come to the Major League each year from the Dominican Republic, on average?
SANDY ALDERSON: Well I would say there's as many as 20 to 25 who actually enter a Major League roster, but coming to the United States from the Dominican at other levels of professional baseball, there are literally hundreds.
WERMAN: And what exactly will your new role be? What is the biggest issue you need to take on from day one?
ALDERSON: Well there are a number of underlying issues. Among them are the use of performance enhancing drugs, age and identity fraud. But the overarching goal on my part is to portray baseball and restore it's reputation as a good citizen in the Dominican Republic doing business there and at the same time I think also eliminate some of the discomfort that Dominicans themselves have about this situation, because of the pride they take in their contribution to baseball.
WERMAN: And so to bring back the luster of Major League Baseball there, you need to essentially address these age and drug issues. When people lie about their age, are they lying up or are they lying down? Is it young people trying to get in to the Major Leagues? Or older people trying to make themselves more attractive as younger baseball players?
ALDERSON: Well it happens in both directions, but overwhelmingly it's older players attempting to portray themselves as younger and that's for the simple fact that signing bonuses and the level of interest of clubs is often a function of age. A player of a certain ability, who is younger, theoretically has more potential than that same player at an older age.
WERMAN: You said Dominicans have become disheartened by what Major League Baseball, all of baseball now represents. How much are these issues, age fraud, abuse of drugs, how much are those playing in headlines in the DR and what is the government doing to address them?
ALDERSON: Well first of all, the Dominican people have a tremendous amount of pride in the contributions they make the Major League Baseball. So as these issues arise, it almost necessarily detracts from the luster of the game there. The government, I think, is willing to be cooperative with us. We have to be able to demonstrate with some specificity that a problem exists. There are some institutional changes that might be appropriate that we'll have to discuss with them. But we always have to be mindful that we're dealing in a different country, with a sovereign government, and all of that has to be approached on a collaborative basis. But I definitely believe that there's a willingness there to cooperate with us.
WERMAN: Major League Baseball does have to address some serious issues though. Like the mere prospect for many of these relatively poor Dominican players of playing for the Majors in the U.S., making millions and millions of dollars, doesn't that continue to be the thing that has to be fueling these problems in the Dominican Republic?
ALDERSON: Oh absolutely. There's widespread poverty in the Dominican Republic. Many of our players come from those socio-economic levels. And that is a tremendous motivator. But the idea is not to eliminate the dollars. There's a market place for talent. It's entitled to be paid. But we need to make sure that those that truly deserve the dollars receive them, and those that are deceptive about their relative talent, don't receive it.
WERMAN: Sandy Alderson, Major League Baseball's new point man, on the Dominican Republic, thank you very much for speaking with us.
ALDERSON: Thank you.