Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' former top pick Josh Sale suspended again

ARLINGTON, Texas — Rays 2010 first-round pick Josh Sale has been suspended for a third time in less than two years after another failed drug test.

Sale, 23, received a 50-game ban Tuesday after testing positive a second time for what Major League Baseball calls "a drug of abuse." He was suspended in August 2012 by MLB for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs and in May 2013 by the team for disciplinary reasons.

Sale, who received a $1.62 million bonus and has yet to play above Class A, declined through his agent to comment.

Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said the team was "disappointed" but indicated Sale will remain in the organization, saying he will serve his punishment and "work closely with our Employee Assistance Program to determine a way forward."

Rays rookie outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, a 31st-round pick in the same draft, said Sale, and others, should know better, given the opportunity they have.

"You control your own destiny, and he hasn't made many good decisions," Kiermaier said. "We all know what we sign up for. There's certain things we're allowed to do and certain things we aren't. Drugs? There's no place in this world for drugs. For him, third offense, anyone who feels bad for him, I don't know why. It's just foolishness."

This is the 16th suspension of a Rays minor-leaguer for drug-related reasons since the start of 2012, which appears to be the most in baseball in that span.

Sale was given the 50-game suspension in August 2012 after testing positive for "methamphetamine and amphetamine," then later claimed he didn't take any banned substances. He was close to returning in May 2013 when the team suspended him for the rest of that season for disciplinary reasons following an inappropriate Facebook post about a visit to a strip club.

At a January mini-camp, he said the suspensions provided a needed "reality check" that allowed him to "go home, grow up, take care of a lot of things."

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