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Piedra is second player ID'd under tougher policy

DENVER -- Even though Colorado Rockies outfielder Jorge Piedra is on a minor league team, he is serving a major league penalty for violating baseball's new policy on performing-enhancing drugs.

Piedra became the second player identified under the major
leagues' tougher new rules and he began serving a 10-day suspension
with Monday's game at Arizona, the commissioner's office said.

Piedra, who was sent to the minors last week before the
suspension was announced, told the Rocky Mountain News he took
prescription painkillers to ease sore hamstrings and ankles.

"I'll take my 10 days and move on," Piedra said. "I know it's
a hot topic. I'll deal with the scrutiny."

Piedra will serve the suspension with Colorado Springs of the
Pacific Coast League.

"It is what it is," he said. "In the offseason, I had a few
injuries and I took some pills. I didn't know the ingredients would
make me test positive, but here I am. ... I apologize to my family
and the Rockies. It happened to me, but I embarrassed them."

He could not be reached by The Associated Press for comment.

"My understanding is that he is not filing an appeal," said
Gene Orza, chief operating officer of the players association.

Piedra was recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Wednesday
and sent back down the next day.

"It's unfortunate," said commissioner Bud Selig, who was in
Boston for the Red Sox-Yankees game. "I'm afraid this probably
won't be the last one."

Tampa Bay outfielder Alex Sanchez was suspended for 10 days last
Monday. He said he tested positive from a supplement he bought over
the counter before Jan. 15, when it was made a controlled
substance.

Selig wouldn't say whether he believed Sanchez. "I want to be
kind," Selig said. "He did not fight his suspension, and I'll
rest my case on that."

Under the new policy that took effect last month, steroids and
other performance-enchancing substances are the only drugs to draw
a 10-day suspension. Baseball officials and the players' union
agreed they would not disclose the exact substance for which a
player tests positive.

Piedra has what is known in baseball as a split contract, and
gets paid at a yearly rate of $84,280 when he is in the minor
leagues and $317,000 -- $1,000 over the minimum -- when he is in the
majors. The suspension will cost him $17,322. Had he tested
positive under the minor league policy, Piedra would have faced a
15-game suspension.

The Rockies issued a statement Monday calling the situation
"unfortunate."

"As an organization we have, and will continue to support Major
League Baseball and its drug-testing policies," team president
Keli McGregor said.

Colorado manager Clint Hurdle declined to comment.

Before the Rockies' game at Arizona on Monday night, second
baseman Aaron Miles noted Piedra is extremely popular among the
players.

"I think if you asked everybody in here, everybody would say
he's a good guy," Miles said. "I guess it shows that no matter if
you're in the minor leagues or the big leagues, your name is going
to come out."

The 25-year-old from Van Nuys, Calif., had a pinch-hit single in
the Rockies' 14-6 loss to San Diego on Wednesday. He was called up
for one day to replace injured outfielder Dustan Mohr. Piedra hit
.297 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 38 games with the Rockies
last season.

Even though he is in the minors, Piedra is subject to the new
major league substance abuse policy because he is on Colorado's
40-man roster.