Oakland starting pitcher Bartolo Colon tested positive for testosterone and will be suspended 50 games without pay, effective immediately. He is the first Athletic player to be suspended under the MLB’s drug prevention and treatment program and the second bay area player this week following Melky Cabrera’s suspension last Wednesday.
The Athletics released this statment early today:
“The Oakland Athletics are disappointed to learn of today’s suspension of pitcher Bartolo Colón. The organization fully supports Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing substances from our game. Per the Basic Agreement, the A’s will have no further comment.”
Colon signed a one year deal/ $2 million contract with the Athletics in the offseason and was enjoying an amazing career resurgence. The 39 year old veteran was 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts and was 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA in his past five outings.
Colon also released a statement today saying, ”I apologize to the fans, to my teammates and to the Oakland A’s. I accept responsibility for my actions and I will serve my suspension as required by the Joint Drug Program.”
A’s reliever Grant Balfour said via the Associated Press, ”It’s a shock, He’s a guy that we’re definitely relying on right now. I guess you could say it’s bad timing any time, but especially now.”
With 40 games left in the regular season, Colon’s season is over. Even if the A’s advance in the playoffs there is no way Colon would be in shape to pitch. If the A’s miss out on the playoffs all together, Colon would serve the final 10 games of his suspension if and when he returns next season.
No doubt this is a big blow for an Athletics team sitting just .5 games out of the playoffs. Beyond being one of the A’s most consistent pitchers on the field, Colon provided crucial veteran leadership to a pitching staff that has featured four rookie starters this year.
Tyson Ross will start tomorrow in Colon’s place. Dan Straily would’ve been the most likely replacement, but he can not rejoin the team until he has been in Triple A for 10 days. If the A’s go with Straily down the road they will have to wait until the Red Sox series starting August 31st. A.J. Griffin is set to make a rehab start tonight and could also replace Colon in the rotation.
Who will replace Colon’s veteran leadership in the clubhouse remains to be seen.