Piedra suspended for violating policy on drugs

Posted: Tuesday, April 12, 2005

NEW YORK (AP)— Colorado Rockies outfielder Jorge Piedra was suspended 10 days Monday for violating baseball's new policy on performance-enhancing drugs, becoming the second player to be publicly identified under the major leagues' tougher rules.

The suspension begins with the Rockies game at Arizona on Monday night, the commissioner's office said.

''My understanding is that he is not filing an appeal,'' said Gene Orza, chief operating officer of the players' association.

Piedra was recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League on Wednesday and sent back down the next day.

''It's unfortunate,'' said commissioner Bud Selig, who was in Boston for the Red Sox-Yankees game. ''I'm afraid this probably won't be the last one.''

Tampa Bay outfielder Alex Sanchez was suspended for 10 days last Monday. He said he tested positive from a supplement he bought over the counter before Jan. 15, when it was made a controlled substance.

Selig wouldn't say whether he believed Sanchez. ''I want to be kind,'' Selig said. ''He did not fight his suspension, and I'll rest my case on that.''

Under the new policy that took effect last month, steroids and other performance-enchancing substances are the only drugs to draw a 10-day suspension. Baseball officials and the players' union agreed they would not disclose the exact substance for which a player tests positive.

Piedra has what is known in baseball as a split contract, and gets paid at a yearly rate of $84,280 when he is in the minor leagues and $317,000— $1,000 over the minimum— when he is in the major leagues. The suspension will cost him $17,322.

Had he tested positive under the minor league policy, Piedra would have faced a 15-game suspension.

The Rockies issued a statement Monday calling the situation ''unfortunate.''

''As an organization we have, and will continue to support Major League Baseball and its drug testing policies,'' team president Keli McGregor said.

Colorado manager Clint Hurdle declined to comment.

Before the Rockies' game at Arizona on Monday night, second baseman Aaron Miles said Piedra was extremely popular among the players.

''I think if you asked everybody in here, everybody would say he's a good guy,'' Miles said. ''I guess it shows that no matter if you're in the minor leagues or the big leagues, you're name is going to come out.''

The Denver Post reported on Monday that Piedra expected the suspension. He told the newspaper that the positive test may have been caused by pills he took from a previous injury.

The 25-year-old from Van Nuys, Calif., had a pinch-hit single in the Rockies' 14-6 loss to San Diego on Wednesday. He was called up from the minors for one day to replace injured outfielder Dustin Mohr. Piedra hit .297 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in 38 games with the Rockies last season.

Even though he plays in the minors, Piedra is subject to the new major league substance abuse policy because he is on Colorado's 40-man roster.

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