SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco Giants minor-league catcher Eliezer Alfonzo was suspended 50 games Wednesday for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, the first player penalized this year under Major League Baseball's drug program.
Alfonzo is on San Francisco's 40-man roster so he falls under the major-league program even though he has played all season at Triple-A Fresno.
"I made a mistake, and I want to apologize to my family, my teammates, the fans and the Giants organization," Alfonzo said in a statement released by the team. "I know what I did was wrong, and now I will pay the penalty. As a father, I now have to look my children in the eye and explain to them that I have made a big mistake, one, unfortunately, that they are also going to have to deal with, as well as me."
The 29-year-old Venezuelan was optioned to Fresno just before Opening Day and is batting .306 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 16 games. The suspension will start Thursday, and Alfonzo will be eligible to return to play June 27, assuming there are no postponements.
He played 113 games with the Giants in the 2006 and 2007 seasons, batting .263 with 13 homers and 45 RBIs.
The Giants said in a statement they were also disappointed to learn about the positive test and that they support baseball's testing program. Alfonzo is the first Giants player to be suspended under the major-league drug program that first started suspensions in 2004.
"As an organization, we will continue to work with our players, Major League Baseball and the players' association to do what we can do to eliminate these performance enhancing substances from our game," the team said. "We will continue to support and counsel Eliezer during his suspension."
Five players have been suspended this year under the minor-league program.
"If you cheat you're going to get caught and you're going to pay the piper," Giants reliever Tyler Walker said. "My advice is just don't do it. Don't give them any reason to get you. It's definitely disappointing. I played with the guy. It's a frustrating deal. At the same time you got other guys doing it the right way. You have to keep going and you can't take any shortcuts in this game."