San Diego Padres pitcher Edinson Volquez was suspended 50 games in 2010 after failing a test for performance-enhancing drugs while with the Cincinnati Reds.(Jim Rogash / Getty Images)
At least 12 players were suspended by Major League Baseball on Monday for their roles in the Biogenesis drug case, but no decision was announced on the future of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is reportedly facing a potential lifetime ban.
The number of players named -- which included the All-Stars Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers, Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers and Everth Cabrera of the San Diego Padres, made Monday’s announcement the largest mass suspension in the sport’s history.
In addition to Cruz, Cabrera and Peralta, who all accepted 50-game penalties without appeal, also suspended Monday, first reported by Fox Sports, were Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, Philadelphia pitcher Antonio Bastardo, Mets outfielder Jordany Valdespin and Mariners catcher Jesus Montero. Minor leaguers who were suspended: Yankees outfielder Fernando Martinez, New York Mets outfielder
Cesar Puello, Houston pitcher Sergio Escalona and San Diego pitcher Fautino De los Santos and free-agent pitcher Jordan Norbert, who played in the Arizona system last season.
Former National League MVP Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers accepted a 65-game suspension last month and will be sidelined until spring training.
Suspended players whose team qualifies for the postseason will be eligible to participate in the playoffs, which begin Oct. 1.
MLB’s desire to have the players complete their penalties this season had a huge influence on the timing of Monday’s announcement. Cruz’s Rangers play their 113th game Monday, against the Angels in Anaheim, meaning an extra day’s delay would have pushed Cruz’s suspension into next year.
The sanctions were originally expected to be handed down last week but were delayed in part in an effort to persuade Rodriguez not to appeal his suspension. Rodriguez’s legal team has promised to appeal, and if it does he could be in the Yankees’ lineup tonight in Chicago against the White Sox.
The commissioner’s office threatened Rodriguez, 38, with a lifetime ban if he didn’t cooperate, which led him to suggest Major League Baseball and the Yankees were conspiring against him. If Rodriguez’s career ends in suspension, the Yankees could save as much as $100 million in salary owed the player.
Sources said MLB wanted to suspend Rodriguez, a three-time American League Most Valuable Player, beyond 50 games -- the maximum allowed for a first-time offense under baseball’s drug protocol -- because it believes he interfered with its investigation of Biogenesis of America, the now-closed South Florida anti-aging clinic at the center of the drug scandal that led to the suspensions.
Tony Bosch, the former director of the clinic, has been cooperating with investigators, reportedly providing thousands of pages of records, logs, emails and receipts.
According to ESPN, talks between Rodriguez’s representatives and the commissioner’s office grew tense before breaking down Saturday after Selig told officials he would no longer negotiate.
One source told ESPN that Michael Weiner, the executive director of the players union, called MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred asking for a meeting involving the union, MLB, the Yankees and Rodriguez’s camp, but Manfred refused.
Rodriguez, who hasn’t played a game in this majors this season after undergoing off-season hip surgery, finished a minor league rehab assignment over the weekend and joined the Yankees in Chicago, where they play the White Sox this week. Manager Joe Girardi said Sunday he planned to have Rodriguez in the starting lineup for Monday’s series opener.
The 12 suspensions announced Monday eclipse the nine who were banned for life following the so-called “Black Sox scandal,” when members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of trying to throw the 1919 World Series. The nine – eight White Sox and one member of the St. Louis Browns -- were acquitted in court but subsequently banned from the game by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis.