He was the other shortstop in camp when the Texas Rangers reported to spring training in 2003.
Drew Meyer had a $1.875 million signing bonus in the bank after being the 10th pick in the 2002 draft. He had even bigger dreams when he arrived in Surprise, Ariz., 10 years ago. But the former Bishop England and University of South Carolina baseball star knew destiny wasn’t on his side.
The Rangers also employed Alex Rodriguez, a shortstop with incredible ability and promise. He was coming off an amazing 2002 season when he became the first player in 18 years to lead the majors in home runs (57), RBIs (142) and total bases (389).
Meyer ended up in the minors in 2003. A-Rod ended up as the American League MVP. Their careers took different paths, but Meyer will never forget meeting a player who once was considered among the greatest, and is now considered a pariah.
“I got to take ground balls with him and talked to him when we were in the dugout,” Meyer said. “He was nice to me. But then again, I wasn’t a threat to him. Obviously, there was no one in the organization who was going to take his job.”
Now, A-Rod’s job is in jeopardy.
Major League Baseball suspended Rodriguez through the end of the 2014 season and banned 12 other players for 50 games.
Rodriguez is expected to appeal the suspension, which could last for 211 regular season games, and will be allowed to play until his appeal is heard.
“It’s crazy to think how good he was and what he’s become,” Meyer said. “Now, it seems everyone in baseball wants him gone. Yeah, he’s supposed to be in the lineup (tonight), but if you look at the flip side, even his employer, the New York Yankees, wants to cleanse their hands.”
While Meyer was in the same organization as A-Rod, former Hanahan star Bryce Florie pitched against him. Florie was a relief pitcher for the San Diego Padres when A-Rod was a shortstop for the Seattle Mariners.
Florie said it’s time for players like Rodriguez to be held accountable for their actions.
“As a former player who went through his era, I’m like ‘Who cares?’ I get tired of hearing about it because I lived it,” Florie said. “They should have done this years ago. Major League Baseball said all the right things for years, but never took any action. They’ve known for a long time what guys like A-Rod were doing but didn’t do anything about it.”
Drew Cisco is a pitcher in the Cincinnati Reds organization after getting drafted out of high school in 2010. The former Wando standout grew up watching A-Rod’s mastery at the plate and in the field.
“Anyone who had anything to do with baseball watched him,” said Cisco, a right-handed pitcher who is playing for the Class A Dayton Dragons. “I followed all the good players back then, and he was one of the greatest. It’s really disappointing. After the first time he admitted it, I wanted him to get his identity back, the one he had in Seattle and Texas. In New York, that’s a different story.”
Cisco said a cloud is hanging over all major leaguers when it should be on a small portion of players.
“There are 100-150 players who broke the rules,” Cisco said. People portray baseball as going through a steroid era when it’s only a small portion. You have to go through the dark days to get to the good days.”
(Andrew Miller contributed to this story.)