Posted by: Larry Smith Jr. | April 20, 2010

Volquez Suspended For PED Use

Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus began the speculation yesterday afternoon by reporting via Twitter that a Performance Enhancing Drugs suspension was imminent in Major League Baseball.   As the night wore on, he noted that it was not a Superstar but a “well known player”, but was not able to get an exact name, team or position.  Speculation went on into the night, but nothing new was to come to light.   The speculation bled into this morning,  where news trickled out that the suspension involved a Pitcher, but still nothing on a name or a team.   Finally in the middle of the afternoon Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reported that the culprit was Cincinnati Reds Pitcher Edinson Volquez.

I’ve made clear in prior posts in this blog and in other writings that I’ve done around the internet that I’m not a particular fan of the steroid coverage in baseball, nor the amount of attention paid to the issue in general by anyone outside of the league office.  I’m particularly offended by the steroid-related demonization of players, both those who have been users and have not been.   Therefore, it would seem to follow that it would be unlikely and uncommon that I’d be blogging here about a steroid story, especially during a period in time when I haven’t been blogging as often as in the recent past and in the near future.   However, this particular steroid case had two aspects that I found notable.  Notable enough that I saw fit to write briefly about it.

The first point is one of irony.  For the Cincinnati Reds as an organization, they must feel jolted to some degree by this, and they’ve been struck by the irony of having traded a player in Josh Hamilton who is pretty well noted as the public face of drug abuse among active Major League players — Even though his drug abuse was not of the performance-enhancing variety — For Volquez.   Yet to date, Hamilton has not been suspended for drug use since being traded to Texas and so far as we in the public know, has only had one brief relapse period of any kind.   Meanwhile, Volquez is the player who gets busted for drug abuse.   If you’re Reds owner Bob Castellini, you’ve got to feel like your team just can’t win.

The second, more serious point, is the timing of this suspension.  Before I go on, I’ll certainly admit to some ignorance as to how the drug policy is collectively bargained.  Specifically, what the parameters within the CBA are for dealing with violations.  More specifically than that, what is the amount of time between when a violation is discovered and when the league must hand down its punishment?    These are things that I do not know, and it may affect the take presented in the remainder of the paragraph.   However, it seems that the suspension would have been more effective if the league waited until after the Reds activated Volquez from the disabled list to dole it out.   Volquez has not pitched in a game since June 1st, 2009, and was on the 60 day disabled list at the time of the suspension.   The suspension is effective tomorrow (April 21st), and therefore it will essentially cover in entirety a period of time that he would not have been playing anyway.   There have been conflicting reports as to whether or not he loses service time as a result of the suspension, but if so, he’ll lose that (thus pushing back the time he can become a free agent) and he’ll also lose roughly $120k in salary (out of $445k owed on the year in total), so Volquez definitely has something to lose with this suspension that he is not appealing.   However, from a competitive standpoint, neither he nor the Reds lose much of anything.   The suspension starts while he is on the disabled list and covers a period of time that he was not expected play anyway.  As noted before, above, perhaps there are rules in the CBA about how long the league has between the time of the discovery and the time where they announce a punishment, but it seems that if they wanted to be more effective they would have waited to announce it during a period of time when it was likely to have a tangible effect, other than simply branding a player as a PED-abuser.   For his part, Volquez maintains that the drug that caused him to fail the test was one prescribed to him by his Doctor to help he and his wife start a family.   Regardless of the reason or the validity, the timing of the punishment was strange on the part of the MLB.



  1. “If you’re Reds owner Bob Castellini, you’ve got to feel like your team just can’t win.”

    Give me a break, Castellini does not deserve to win, he does not care about PED’s, he cares about money. His trucking company steps on people, his ball players cheat too….it seems typical of how his companies operate.

    To feel bad for Castellini is ridiculous, the fish stinks from the head first.

    We want our team back, we want a winner.

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