Betancourt 'angry and disappointed'
Betancourt, on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, disputes the claim and said he will ask the players' association to file a grievance to clear his name.
"I am very angry and disappointed with Major League Baseball's decision to suspend me," Betancourt said in a statement. "I am very sorry if this has caused any embarrassment and I apologize to my family, the Cleveland Indians organization, my teammates and all the fans.
"I look forward to resolving this matter and returning to the Indians as soon as possible."
Betancourt is the sixth player suspended under Major League Baseball's policy, which began in March. There have been 77 players suspended under the minor league program.
|April 3||OF Alex Sanchez, Tampa Bay|
|April 11||OF Jorge Piedra, Colorado|
|April 20||RHP Agustin Montero, Texas|
|April 26||OF Jamal Strong, Seattle|
|May 2||RHP Juan Rincon, Minnesota|
|July 8||RHP Rafael Betancourt, Cleveland|
The right-hander will serve the suspension while on the disabled list, and it will cost him $18,503 of his $338,600 salary.
"The Cleveland Indians strongly support Major League Baseball's testing program for performance-enhancing drugs," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said Friday before the Indians played the Yankees in New York. "In addition to this support, we continue to implement an aggressive educational program at the major- and minor-league levels.
"We want our players to be aware of the short and long-term dangers of these substances. Until Rafael decides how he will address this finding, we will have no further comment on his situation."
Betancourt went on the disabled list Sunday, a move retroactive to June 30. He has been a key cog in the Indians' bullpen, going 2-2 with a 2.21 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings.
Former Tampa Bay outfielder Alex Sanchez, Colorado outfielder Jorge Piedra, Texas pitcher Agustin Montero, Seattle outfielder Jamal Strong and Minnesota reliever Juan Rincon also were suspended. Montero and Rincon asked the union to file grievances, but decisions have not yet been made by arbitrator Shyam Das.
Under pressure from politicians, baseball commissioner Bud Selig asked players in April to agree to a 50-game suspension for first-time steroid offenders, a 100-game penalty for second offenders and a lifetime ban for a third violation. Discussions between the union and management are ongoing.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press