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Minors' steroids policy catches 38
Seattle Mariners pitcher Damian Moss, a former Oriole, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's Francisco Cordova were among 38 players suspended yesterday for violating baseball's minor league steroids policy.
The Oakland Athletics' David Castillo was suspended for 60 games, the penalty for a third violation. All the others were suspended for 15 games, the ban given to first offenders.
Eight of the 38 positives came from the Seattle organization, seven from the Chicago Cubs, five each from the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers and Oakland, and four from the San Diego Padres. There were two from the Colorado Rockies, and one each from the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox.
Robert Machado, a former Orioles catcher who was released by the Rangers, was among those suspended.
"The release speaks for itself," Oakland assistant general manager David Forst said. "The program is in place and it's working."
The commissioner's office said one suspension was the result of offseason testing and the rest stemmed from 925 tests conducted during spring training.
Last year, about 1.7 percent of the minor league tests for steroids were positive, baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said. Courtney did not know whether some teams had more players than others tested during spring training.
TICKETS: Baseball fans are paying more this year, with teams raising their prices by an average of 6.3 percent in the steepest increase since 2000.
The Red Sox have the highest average price for the eighth consecutive year, averaging $44.56 at Fenway Park after raising prices 9.3 percent. Overall, the average ticket price in the major leagues is $21.17, Team Marketing Report said in its annual survey.
DEVIL RAYS: The team addressed its need for a backup catcher, signing former Oriole Charles Johnson to a one-year contract.
The 33-year-old, four-time Gold Glove winner hit .236 with 13 homers and 47 RBIs in 109 games for Colorado in 2004, but did not fit into the Rockies' plans for this season.
METS: Right-hander Kris Benson, originally scheduled to pitch the third game of the season, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained chest muscle.
CUBS: Third baseman Aramis Ramirez agreed to a $42 million, four-year contract that includes a mutual option for 2009.
Ramirez batted .318 with 36 homers and 103 RBIs last season and would have been eligible to become a free agent at the end of the 2005 season. He can terminate his new deal after 2006.
YANKEES: Kevin Brown rejoined the team after spending two days in Georgia working with a physical therapist on his bothersome back.
Brown was placed on the disabled list for the 12th time in his career Sunday with a flare-up of the injury that has hampered him the last few seasons.
TIGERS: Outfielder Bobby Higginson, who did not start on Opening Day for the first time since 1995, was booed during pre-game introductions. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm also were booed before the game.
OBITUARY: Marius Russo, a former Yankees pitcher who played for four pennant-winning teams and two World Series champions, has died at age 90.
A left-hander who pitched for the Yankees from 1939-1943 and in 1946 after he returned from military service, Russo died March 26 from heart failure after battling various illnesses, his wife, Stasia, said.