Catcher/1B among 13 disciplined in wake of Biogenesis investigation
Greg Johns and Jacob Thorpe
SEATTLE -- Jesus Montero, who began the season as the Mariners' starting catcher, received a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball as a result of its investigation involving performance-enhancing drugs purchased through the Miami anti-aging clinic Biogenesis. He will not appeal.
Thirteen players were suspended on Monday as a result of the league's Biogenesis investigation. Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez received the stiffest penalty -- a 211-game ban without pay through the end of the 2014 regular season. Rodriguez, 38, has appealed the suspension, which is to begin Thursday. His case will be heard by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. Rodriguez's discipline, MLB said in its written announcement, is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years. Rodriguez's discipline under the basic agreement is for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to "obstruct and frustrate" the investigation.
The other players who were handed 50-game suspensions include Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo and recently demoted Mets utility man Jordany Valdespin. Minor Leaguers Fernando Martinez, Jordan Norberto, Fautino de los Santos, Cesar Puello and Sergio Escalona were also suspended.
The Mariners released a statement that said the organization was "disappointed that Jesus Montero has violated the terms of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Our organization fully supports the Program and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing substances from our game."
Before Monday night's series opener against the Blue Jays at Safeco Field, general manager Jack Zduriencik said that Montero would be sent to the Rookie League to work out during his suspension. He won't be allowed to dress during games or take part in most on-field activities. Zduriencik also ruled out the possibility of Montero returning for the final three games of the season once his suspension has been served.
As part of the suspension, Montero will not receive service time or pay. He will also not count against Seattle's 40-man roster.
"There were so many people, players included, that wanted this thing stopped, wanted it cleaned up," Zduriencik said. "We support the program, we support suspensions, we support what's happening. So hopefully it'll be a deterrent for anyone that wants to do this in the future."
Montero, 23, was playing for the Mariners' Triple-A club in Tacoma after being demoted on May 23 following a slow start in the big leagues. He then missed about six weeks following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, but he rejoined Tacoma and had been playing first base and designated hitter the past month.
Montero was one of baseball's top right-handed-hitting prospects when the Mariners acquired him in a trade with the Yankees for pitcher Michael Pineda prior to the 2012 season.
"It is what it is," said Charlie Furbush, the Mariners' Players' Association rep. "I don't think it changes my feelings about a person as a whole, I think he just did something that he probably regrets and he'll just have to move on from here and keep moving forward and try to get back to playing the game clean."
Montero played 135 games for Seattle in 2012 and hit .260 with 15 home runs and 62 RBIs. He was expected to take the starting catcher's role this year but hit just .208 with three home runs and nine RBIs while struggling defensively in his first 29 games.
Montero is transitioning to first base with Tacoma, where he hit .247 with one home run and nine RBIs in 19 games.