Davis suspended 25 games for amphetamines
Penalty will carry into postseason should AL East-leading Orioles continue on
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles were dealt another blow on Friday morning, as first baseman Chris Davis was suspended for 25 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive for amphetamines associated with the drug Adderall.
The suspension -- which means it was Davis' second violation -- is effective immediately and will cause him to miss the remaining 17 regular-season games as well as eight postseason games should Baltimore advance that far. While Davis won't be eligible until he serves out his suspension, MLB has decided he can still be placed on the American League Championship Series roster under the ban. Meaning if the O's get there, Davis can return in-series.
The Orioles, who entered Friday's doubleheader against the Yankees with a 10-game lead in the AL East, are now without catcher Matt Wieters (Tommy John elbow surgery), Manny Machado (knee surgery) and Davis as they head into October.
Davis, who led the Major Leagues last year in home runs with 53 and RBIs with 138, issued a statement through the MLB Players Association shortly after the news broke.
"I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Orioles organization and especially the fans," Davis said. "I made a mistake by taking Adderall. I had permission to use it in the past, but do not have a therapeutic-use exemption (TUE) this year. I accept my punishment and will begin serving my suspension immediately."
Davis learned he would be suspended on Thursday night and called manager Buck Showalter to deliver the news personally. He also reached out to several of his teammates.
"It was tough. Put a little damper on the Ravens game, that's for sure," Showalter said. "You've got to learn to deal with the problems and the challenges along the way, and if they're self-inflicted, there's no woe-is-me. And this is self-inflicted. Chris is, like he does a lot of things, I think you guys will see the next day or so, he's going to attack it head on."
Davis, named the Most Valuable Oriole last season, was unable to replicate his monster 2013 this season. The 28-year-old slugger hit 26 homers with 72 RBIs in 127 games, but he batted just .196 with a Major League-leading 173 strikeouts while dealing with prolonged slumps and even an occasional benching. But with Machado out for the season, Davis had shifted to third base quite a bit and gave the team steady defense despite his struggles at the plate.
How will the suspension be viewed in light of Davis' accomplishments last season?
"At this point, it's not up to me to gauge what's fair or not fair," Showalter said. "I know what the positive test was for, and believe me, I'm not condoning any positive test. Everybody knows what the rules are, so it is what it is. We've all made mistakes, and none of us would like to have our whole life judged by our worst decision.
"I'm disappointed. I know Chris is, too, but it is what it is. We'll try to deal with it and move on. Timing's never good, but it's one of those challenges. It's why we have [testing] in place. Fully supportive of it. These are the things that everybody knew about beforehand, and it's another way that we want our fans to be able to trust a lot of things."
The Orioles are 72-55 this season with Davis and 14-4 without him in the lineup. They entered Friday with a magic number of eight and will rely on some of their role players to fill the void. Kelly Johnson, who the team acquired in a trade with Boston late last month, started at third base in the first game on Friday, with Steve Pearce at first. Showalter said the team was also weighing whether to bring up an extra infielder from the taxi squad in Sarasota, Fla. But having to cover for a major loss on the field is nothing new for this year's club.
"We asked that same question where Matt was concerned, where Manny was concerned, where J.J. [Hardy] has been concerned, where some pitchers we've had go down," Showalter said. "I've got a lot of confidence in our guys. We're always looking at the what-ifs. Chris has had some physical issues and we've been able to plug some people in that did a nice job for us, so we'll see."