Former Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon of the Oakland Athletics was suspended for 50 games on Wednesday after testing positive for testosterone.
Major League Baseball made the announcement one week after All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants received a 50-game suspension following a positive test for the same substance.
“I apologize to the fans, to my teammates and to the Oakland A’s,” Colon said in a statement released by the players’ association. “I accept responsibility for my actions and I will serve my suspension as required by the joint drug program.”
He will miss the final 40 games of the regular season and the first 10 games of the post-season if Oakland advance that far. Any remainder of the suspension would be served in a future season, if Colon signs another major league contract.
“It’s a shock,” Oakland reliever Grant Balfour said. “He’s a guy that we’re definitely relying on right now. I guess you could say it’s bad timing any time, but especially now.”
Oakland, which have not made the playoffs since 2006, on Wednesday began a half-game out in the AL wild-card race. The A’s were preparing for an afternoon series finale against Minnesota when they got the news from clubhouse televisions. A closed-door team meeting was called.
“The Oakland Athletics are disappointed to learn of today’s suspension,” the team said in a statement.
General manager Billy Beane received word from MLB earlier on Wednesday and began searching for a starter to take Colon’s turn in the rotation yesterday in Tampa Bay, Florida. Tyson Ross will be called up from Triple-A Sacramento. Beane addressed the A’s in the clubhouse before the team took the field for pre-game warmups.
“Listen, it’s disappointing. From a baseball standpoint, we’re scrambling,” Beane said. “We’re all disappointed, not just for the Giants and the A’s, but for baseball.”
The 39-year-old Colon is 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts this season, his first with the A’s, and has a 171-122 record in 15 big league seasons.
A two-time All-Star, the burly right-hander won the 2005 American League Cy Young Award after going 21-8 for the Los Angeles Angels.
Colon will lose the remaining US$469,945 of his US$2 million base salary this year. He has also earned US$750,000 in performance bonuses based on starts and US$150,000 based on innings, which are not impacted. Yesterday’s start would have earned him another US$250,000, and the suspension will cost him the chance to make US$850,000 in additional bonuses based on innings.
Manager Bob Melvin had not spoken to Colon as of late morning on Wednesday.
“It is what it is. We certainly don’t support the actions, but you have to move forward,” Melvin said. “You go through things over the course of the season. This is just one of them ... You have to have a short memory.”