Quintana reflects on lessons from suspension
CHICAGO -- The topic of Jose Quintana's 2007 suspension is brought up to the affable 23-year-old, and the left-handed hurler attacks the subject much like he did the Yankees during Monday night's 8-1 White Sox victory at U.S. Cellular Field.
Quintana was not even 17 and pitching in the Mets system when he was suspended for violating the terms of Minor League Baseball's drug policy. He sat out from May 15 to July 16 and was eventually released by the Mets, causing him to think that his professional career was over before it could begin.
"Absolutely, that passed through my mind," Quintana said through a translator, White Sox coach Lino Diaz. "I had four months where I was out of baseball, and I totally thought I was done. But I had really good people around me, especially my family, who supported me throughout all this."
After joining the Mets as a free agent on April 26, 2006, the native of Colombia tested positive in October of that year. Quintana admits now that his first reaction was to think the positive test was some sort of bad joke because he wasn't taking anything.
It was medicine that Quintana had been given for a back issue that caused the positive, according to the pitcher.
"I feel like it was lack of orientation more than anything," Quintana said "I was just taking medicine. I wasn't trying to get anything else. I was going to a gym where they had a sports medicine guy.
"So back then, I asked, 'Hey, I need something for my back -- but just something that is not going to be against what I'm doing.' And unfortunately, that came out."
One mistake did not erase Quintana's big league chances, as the Yankees signed him as a free agent on March 10, 2008. The White Sox picked up the lefty after he departed the Yankees in 2011, and he has since become a rotation mainstay.
That long chain of events culminated with Quintana facing the Yankees in Alex Rodriguez's return to action on Monday night. Quintana earned the victory, improving to 6-3 with a 3.51 ERA and 110 strikeouts over 138 1/3 innings. He's also 2-0 in his career against the team that kept his dream alive.
"I'll always be thankful to the Yankees for giving me that opportunity," Quintana said. "I learned a lot from that experience, and that's what's important to me now.
"I'm sure they don't really want to cause any harm or anything like that," added Quintana of those players who test positive. "You just have to be careful."