By J.J. Cooper
July 1, 2005
Major League Baseball suspended two Nationals farmhands Friday and handed down its stiffest penalty yet for a player who has violated its new performance-enhancing drug policy.
Double-A Harrisburg infielder Ramon Castro, 25, received the largest suspension yet under the new guidelines. The former big leaguer, who played nine games with the Oakland Athletics last season, was fined an undisclosed amount and suspended for 105 games for two separate violations, a suspension that will last well into the 2006 season. Castro, signed by the Braves out of Venezuela in 1996, started the year at high Class A Potomac before a promotion to Double-A and already had hit 10 home runs this season; his career high is 12.
MLB also suspended Josh Labandeira, 26, for 15 games as a first-time violator. He had just earned a promotion to Triple-A New Orleans (where he was 8-for-20) after a 10-for 46 start at Harrisburg. He missed a month earlier this season with an abdominal strain.