PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies got another dose of bad news Monday as Major League Baseball suspended left-hander Antonio Bastardo 50 games for violations relating to its Biogenesis investigation. He will begin serving the suspension without pay immediately.
Bastardo had been one of the only reliable arms in a bullpen that has struggled mightily. He is 3-2 with a 2.32 ERA in 48 appearances. Bastardo allowed 32 hits, 11 earned runs, 21 walks and has struck out 47 in 42 2/3 innings.
Bastardo had been serving as the team's setup man with Mike Adams on the disabled list recovering from right shoulder surgery. Left-hander Cesar Jimenez was called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to replace him on the roster.
MLB on Monday suspended 13 players 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, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo and recently demoted Mets utilityman Jordany Valdespin. Minor Leaguers Fernando Martinez, Jordan Norberto, Fautino de los Santos, Cesar Puello and Sergio Escalona were also suspended.
Team president David Montgomery issued a statement that read: "Obviously, the Phillies are very disappointed to learn of Antonio Bastardo's violation of Major League Baseball's Drug Program. We strongly believe in the Program and look forward to a time when performance-enhancing drugs are completely out of baseball. Hopefully the sanctions announced today will bring us closer to that day. We respect the fact that Antonio has acknowledged his serious mistake and accepted his 50-game suspension."
Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was unavailable for comment.
Bastardo is making $1.4 million this season, which means he will forfeit about $460,000 in salary. He is eligible to return for the team's final game of the season Sept. 29 in Atlanta, although that is unlikely.
Now that Bastardo is out for the season, it is unclear who the Phillies will pitch in the eighth inning should they have a lead late in the game. Right-hander Justin De Fratus is the mostly likely candidate. He is 2-3 with a 4.33 ERA this season.
Former big league pitcher Dan Meyer expressed his anger toward Bastardo on Twitter. Meyer pitched with the Phils in Spring Training in 2011, going 2-0 with a 6.75 ERA in five appearances. He was assigned to Minor League camp before Philadephila released him.
"Hey Antonio Bastardo, remember when we competed for a job in 2011. Thx alot." Meyer added later, "Never said I was good enough, but what about the players that never got their chance? Their lives could have been completely different."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com.