By John Manuel
April 22, 2005
Major League Baseball announced nine more minor leaguers who have been suspended for testing positive for performance-enhancing substances, a list headlined by former Mets righthander Grant Roberts. All nine players were suspended for 15 games as first-time offenders.
These are the first suspensions covering organizations that train in Florida during the spring, following 38 players from Arizona camps (and one offseason test), as well as three suspensions for player who failed tests while on 40-man rosters. Six other players from Florida camps—three Pirates and three Blue Jays farmhands—also have been sanctioned.
Steroid suspension names have trickled out of Florida camps, and more are expected in the days to come. These nine suspensions stem from 251 tests conducted in Florida camps, meaning 4 percent of players failed the tests.
The only player with big league experience who tested positive is Roberts, 27, who re-signed with the Mets in the offseason and has spent his entire career in the organization since signing in 1995 as an 11th-round pick. He has pitched 102 innings in the big leagues with a 4-4, 4.25 mark, including one save. He gained more notoriety when Newsday cited him as one of several Mets players who used marijuana in 2002.
Two players who ranked No. 30 on their organizations' prospect lists also were suspended: Indians second baseman Eider Torres and Braves infielder James Jurries. With five home runs in 38 at-bats this season, Jurries was off to a strong start for Triple-A Richmond, batting .316/.372/.763. Torres, 22, is at Double-A Akron and off to a .273/.294/.348 start for the Aeros after ranking fourth in the high Class A Carolina League in batting (.302) last season.
Roberts had been released by the Mets at the end of spring training, as was outfielder Adam Seuss, who was also suspended. Seuss has since re-signed with the Astros, who originally drafted him in 2002 out of UC Riverside. Lefthander Damien Myers of the Tigers organization, also released at the end of spring training, also was suspended.
Three Orioles farmhands—second baseman Gary Cates, third baseman Rafael Diaz and righthander Richard Salazar—were suspended. Cates is playing at Double-A Bowie (he's 8-for-46, .174), while Diaz (3-for-25) and Salazar (1-0, 9.00 in four innings) are on the low Class A Delmarva roster.
The other suspended player is Braves farmhand Ricardo Rodriguez, a righthander who was converted to the mound two years ago. He was off to a scorching start at high Class A Myrtle Beach, striking out 19 in 11 innings while walking only one.