Piedra is second player ID'd under tougher policy

Updated: April 12, 2005, 1:38 PM ET
Associated Press

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.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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