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MLB bans reliever for life

Jenrry Mejia

Jenrry Mejia

NEW YORK — Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia became the first player to receive a lifetime ban under Major League Baseball's drug agreement after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance for the third time.

The commissioner's office said Friday that Mejia tested positive for the anabolic steroid Boldenone, used to increase muscle mass and was once popular for use in horse racing.

The 26-year-old right-hander was the Mets' closer in 2014, then was suspended for 80 games last April after a positive test for Stanozolol, a drug popular among bodybuilders. At the time, he said, "I can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system."

Mejia returned July 12, appeared in seven games, then was banned for 162 games on July 28 after a positive test for Stanozolol and Boldenone.

"I think not surprisingly there's a tremendous amount of disappointment, I think to some extent, anger, to some extent, amazement that this could happen so soon after a previous suspension was completed," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said then.

The Mets said Friday that they "were deeply disappointed." The Players Association declined comment, and a spokesman for Mejia's agents said the pitcher had no comment.

Under pressure to toughen their drug program, MLB players and teams agreed in 2005 that a third positive test for PEDs would result in a lifetime ban. His 162-game suspension had matched the longest under the big-league program, a yearlong ban served by the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez in 2014 that originally was 211 games before an arbitrator reduced it.

Mejia may apply one year from now to commissioner Rob Manfred for reinstatement, and Manfred has the power to let Mejia back in baseball — but no earlier than for the 2018 season. If an application is made and denied, Mejia could ask baseball's arbitrator to end the ban, claiming the penalty is without "just cause." The arbitrator cannot reduce the ban to less than two years.

A Dominican signed by the Mets in 2007, Mejia reached the majors in 2010 and became their closer in 2014, when he had 28 saves in 31 chances.

YANKEES SIGN CHAPMAN: Closer Aroldis Chapman and the Yankees agreed to a one-year contract worth $11,325,000, avoiding salary arbitration. Acquired from Cincinnati in December, Chapman had asked for $13.1 million and had been offered $9 million. The agreement was $275,000 above the midpoint. Chapman threw the 62 fastest pitches in the majors last season, ranging from 103.92 to 102.36 mph. He was 4-4 with a 1.63 ERA and 33 saves in 36 chances, striking out 116 and walking 33 in 66 1-3 innings. He made $8,075,000. MLB is investigating Chapman under the sport's new domestic abuse policy after a disturbance in Florida on Oct. 30 involving his girlfriend. Prosecutors decided not to file charges.

INDIANS GET HUNTER: Reliever Tommy Hunter and the Indians agreed to a one-year deal. The Rays had been having talks with the 29-year-old right-hander. Hunter was 4-2 with a 4.18 ERA in 58 relief appearances last season for the Orioles and Cubs, who acquired him July 31 for outfielder Junior Lake.

TRADE: The Brewers traded outfielder Khris Davis, who hit 27 home runs last season, to the A's for a pair of prospects.

MLB bans reliever for life 02/12/16 [Last modified: Friday, February 12, 2016 11:14pm]
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