Blue Jays' Colabello suspended 80 games

April 22nd, 2016

TORONTO -- Blue Jays first baseman Chris Colabello was suspended for 80 games without pay on Friday afternoon for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Colabello tested positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, which is an anabolic steroid also known as oral turinabol. The drug was developed in East Germany in 1962, and it gained notoriety during the 1990s, when it was linked to that country's international athletes.

The suspension also means Colabello will not be eligible for the postseason if Toronto qualifies later this year. The 32-year-old informed his teammates of the news in a closed-door meeting that took place approximately 30 minutes before the suspension was announced.

"On March 13, I got one of the scariest and most definitely the least expected phone calls of my entire life," Colabello said in a statement. "I was informed by the [Major League Baseball] Players Association that a banned substance was found in my urine. I have spent every waking moment since that day trying to find an answer as to why or how.

"The only thing I know is that I would never compromise the integrity of the game of baseball. I love this game too much! I care too deeply about it. I am saddened more for the impact this will have on my teammates, the organization and the fans of the Toronto Blue Jays. I hope that before anyone passes judgment on me, they can take a look at the man that I am and everything that I have done to get to where I am in my career."

Colabello had one of the feel-good stories in the game after he went from playing independent baseball to signing with the Twins in 2012. He made his big league debut a year later to mixed results but then had a breakout season for the Blue Jays last year. In 101 games, Colabello hit .321 with 15 home runs and 54 RBIs while posting an .886 OPS.

The native of Massachusetts hasn't been able to replicate those numbers during the early stages of 2016. Colabello had just two hits in 29 at-bats and seemed to be on the verge of losing playing time at first base to Justin Smoak. The Blue Jays will now have to move forward without Colabello in their immediate plans, as Smoak takes over the everyday duties.

"This is obviously an unfortunate situation that we are in with Chris," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said in a statement. "We believe in him as a person and player. We also fully endorse the Major League Baseball drug testing policy.

"Chris has overcome a great deal in his career and has been a key contributor to this team. While we are certainly disappointed with today's news, we're confident he'll return ready to compete and will have taken the steps needed to ensure that this does not happen again."

Left-hander Chad Girodo was promoted from Triple-A Buffalo to take Colabello's spot on the 25-man active roster. Toronto's bullpen has been overworked in recent days, and the club is expected to carry an extra reliever until Sunday, when right-hander Drew Hutchison will be promoted from Buffalo to make a spot start vs the A's.

"I'm disappointed it happened," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of the suspension. "I kind of have a special bond with the kid. I was the manager when he kind of made it, and he's a unique guy ... This hurts me just like it hurts him, because I love the guy, you know? He's beloved out there in that clubhouse."