Volquez suspended 50 games for PED use
Reds right-hander currently sidelined after Tommy John surgery
CINCINNATI -- Reds starting pitcher Edinson Volquez has been suspended 50 games for violation of Major League Baseball's performance-enhancing drug policy, the league announced Tuesday.The suspension of Volquez, who is on the 60-day disabled list, will be effective on Wednesday. He can serve the time while on the DL but will lose 50 games worth of pay, which totals around $120,000 of his $445,000 salary for 2010. In a statement released through Volquez's representative, the right-hander explained the nature of the drugs he took. "Prior to the conclusion of last season, my wife and I sought medical advice in Cincinnati with the hope of starting a family," the statement read. "As part of my consultation with the physician, I received certain prescribed medications to treat my condition. As a follow up to our original consultation, my wife and I visited another physician in our home city in the Dominican Republic this past off-season. This physician also gave me certain prescribed medications as part of my treatment. Unfortunately, I now know that the medication the physician in the Dominican gave me is one that is often used to treat my condition, but is also a banned substance under Major League Baseball's drug policy. As a result, I tested positive when I reported to Spring Training." Volquez's statement also said he accepted responsibility for the mistake and that he did not challenge the suspension. "I want to assure everyone that this was an isolated incident involving my genuine effort to treat a common medical issue and start a family," Volquez said. "I was not trying in any way to gain an advantage in my baseball career. I am embarrassed by this whole situation and apologize to my family, friends, fans, teammates, and the entire Reds organization for being a distraction and for causing them any difficulty. I simply want to accept the consequences, learn from the mistake, and continue to strive to be the best person and baseball player I can be." Outside of their own statement, the Reds did not comment about the nature of Volquez's suspension. "The Reds fully support Major League Baseball's drug policy and its penalties," the club said. "The organization does not condone in any way the use of drugs not sanctioned by MLB's medical staff." Reds general manager Walt Jocketty was informed by MLB that the suspension would be levied. Jocketty, who would not talk about Volquez, told Reds manager Dusty Baker the news Tuesday afternoon. "Walt said, 'Welcome home. I've got some bad news.' I didn't know what it was going to be," Baker said before Volquez's statement was out. "It's sad. I'm sure there is more to it than what came out." The 26-year-old Volquez has not pitched for the Reds since June 1, 2009. He had Tommy John surgery performed on his right elbow on Aug. 3 and is expected to return in late July or August this season. In 42 career games for the Reds, including 41 starts, Volquez is 21-8 with a 3.44 ERA, 125 walks and 253 strikeouts. He was a 17-game winner and a National League All-Star in 2008. He was limited to nine starts in 2009 before he was shut down. "I'm sure it's disappointing for my son [11-year-old] Darren," Baker said. "He is one of my son's favorites. You know what I mean? I already had to explain to him a couple of years ago when he asked me if any good hitters weren't on steroids. I named two or three of them and they ended up as guys that tested positive. So I don't know what to say." Volquez is currently at the Reds' spring complex in Goodyear, Ariz., continuing his rehabilitation. According to Major League Baseball drug policy, a player receives a 50-game suspension for a first positive performance-enhancing drug test, a 100-game suspension for a second positive test and a lifetime ban for a third positive test. Dodgers manager Joe Torre, whose team is in Cincinnati to play the Reds, said players have to be extra cautious.
"They need to be aware that even if you go to a health care store that doesn't mean it's allowed by Major League Baseball. They need to police themselves.
"They're told every spring ... We have different speakers every spring about what you put in your body," Torre said. "Major League Baseball is intent on gaining the trust back from the fans. We have rules that everybody has to live by. [Our players are] constantly reminded by our training staff."
The last Major League player suspended under the more stringent policy adopted by MLB in 2006 was Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez, who served a 50-game suspension last season. The last time a Reds player was suspended for PED use was backup catcher Ryan Jorgensen in September 2007.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.