Now, facing the baseball version of the death penalty, the Brewers righthander swears he'll stay clean. And he intends to prove it by donning a big league uniform in the not-so-distant future.
"I understand people will say things about me," Jeffress said. "But, at the end of the day, all that matters is what I want to do with my life.
"What I want to do is play major league baseball."
Jeffress, 22, lost control of both his life and career in recent years by being unable to control his urge to smoke marijuana. Last June, major league baseball suspended him for 100 games for testing positive for a "drug of abuse," leaving him one offense away from a lifetime ban.
It was the third time the 2006 first-round pick tested positive for marijuana. The first offense results merely in counseling and education. The second draws a 50-game ban, followed by 100 games and then permanent expulsion.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Jeffress drew a 50-game suspension while pitching for low Class A West Virginia in 2007. That fall, while serving the suspension, he also failed a club-administered test that resulted only in internal sanctions.
This time, however, Jeffress is determined to fulfill his potential, on and off the field. Since drawing the 100-game ban, which will carry nearly halfway through the 2010 season, he has been a model citizen, beginning with a stay in a substance abuse program in Milwaukee last fall.
"It was awesome, the best place I've ever been to," said Jeffress, now residing in Brevard County, Fla., where he last pitched for the high Class A Manatees.
"It was time to get away from baseball, get away from the stress, get away from people I shouldn't be around. I benefited from being around people that had the same problems I had, what they were thinking."
• Catcher Matt Treanor, 33, signed a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Now recovered from surgery to his right hip, he appeared in just four games with the Tigers last season.
• Righthander Kameron Loe, 28, signed a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. He spent seven years with the Rangers prior to playing last season in Japan's Pacific League.