Just four days after Major League Baseball suspended nine more minor
leaguers for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, the
commissioner’s office announced today that Mariners’ outfielder Jamal
Strong has been suspended for 10 days for violating the policy.
Strong’s violation was for 10 days as a first-time violator for 40-man
roster players, who are tested for fewer substances than minor leaguers
who are not on 40-man rosters. Those minor leaguers are suspended for
15 days for their first offense and are tested for a wider variety of
Strong, Seattle’s No. 12 prospect, was a sixth-round pick in 2000 out
of Nebraska. Billed as a better defensive center fielder than Jeremy
Reed or Randy Winn, Strong has been hampered by injuries the last two
seasons. He tore his labrum and dislocated his left shoulder on a
headfirst slide during spring training in 2003, then missed most of the
final two months last season when he sustained a bone bruise on his
right knee when he ran into an outfield wall.
Strong’s game revolves around getting on base and using his speed, as
he is one of the fastest players in the minors. He hit .324/.421/.424
with three homers and 24 RBIs at Triple-A Tacoma in 2004 and was
hitting .235/.339/.294 with three RBIs in 51 at-bats in a return trip
there this season.
Strong becomes the ninth player in the Mariners’ organization to be
suspended for violating the drug policy, but he is by far the
highest-profile prospect. Vice president of player development and
scouting Benny Looper said while the organization conducts its own
internal tests, it is the individual player’s responsibility to adhere
to the policy.
“We are extremely disappointed with our players who have been
suspended,” Looper said when the first list of 38 players from Arizona
spring training camps was released. “While we support those players, we
also support the efforts of Major League Baseball to rid baseball of
performing enhancing drugs.”