Jenrry Mejia, the first player kicked out of baseball after three violations of the sport’s drug policy, was reinstated Friday by Commissioner Rob Manfred.
Manfred said in a statement that the pitcher could rejoin the New York Mets next year, in what the commissioner called “a final chance.” The league put Mejia on its “permanently ineligible” list two years ago.
“In light of Mr. Mejia’s contrition, his commitment to comply with the program in the future, and the fact that he will have already spent almost four consecutive years suspended without pay,” Manfred said, “I have decided to grant Mr. Mejia a final chance to resume his professional career.”
The three-strikes-and-you’re-out clause of baseball’s drug policy, bargained between the league and its players’ union, allows for reinstatement from the permanently ineligible list provided that the player has served at least two years of the most recent suspension.
The commissioner is not required to grant reinstatement, but a denial can be appealed to an arbitrator “and any such challenge may include a claim that a suspension beyond two years would not be for just cause,” according to the drug policy.
Mejia was suspended twice in the 2015 season after twice testing positive for steroids, the second positive test coming while he served the suspension for the first positive test. His third positive test — and the resulting placement on the permanently ineligible list — occurred before the start of the 2016 season.
Mejia, 28, last pitched in the major leagues on July 26, 2015, working one scoreless inning against the Dodgers. He pitched in the Venezuelan league last winter.
Manfred said Mejia could work out under the Mets’ auspices after the All-Star break and begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment in August. If Mejia fulfills certain unspecified conditions, he would be fully reinstated next year.
In a statement, the Mets promised Mejia nothing.
“Jennry Mejia has abided by the terms set forth by Commissioner Manfred and we appreciate his regret and renewed commitment to comply moving forward,” the Mets said. “We will evaluate his progress on the field and assess the situation and our options in the coming months.”
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