Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

NL batting champ gets PEDs ban

MIAMI — Reigning NL batting champion Dee Gordon of the Marlins says he unknowingly took the performance-enhancing drugs that led to his 80-game suspension but will accept the penalty.

The announcement of the suspension by Major League Baseball came shortly after the Marlins' win over the Dodgers on Thursday. MLB said Gordon tested positive for exogenous testosterone and clostebol.

"Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances," Gordon said in a statement released Friday. "The hardest part about this is feeling that I have let down my teammates, the organization, and the fans. I have been careful to avoid products that could contain something banned by MLB, and the 20-plus tests that I have taken and passed throughout my career prove this.

"I made a mistake, and I accept the consequences."

The 28-year-old led the majors in hits and stolen bases last year. He batted .333, became an All-Star for the second time and won a Gold Glove at second base. The big season helped him earn a $50 million, five-year contract he signed in January.

He and Marlins manager Don Mattingly were together with the Dodgers for four years, but the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Gordon didn't become a regular in Los Angeles until 2014. Gordon, the son of former major-league pitcher Tom Gordon, was traded to Miami in a seven-player deal in December 2014, and Mattingly became the Marlins' manager this season.

"Dee is always a guy we felt could play, but at that point he was 145 pounds soaking wet," Mattingly said during spring training. "Now he has turned into a man. He has put some physical strength on him, and he's a different player."

The suspension came only months after steroids-tainted home run king Barry Bonds joined the Marlins as their hitting coach. Mattingly said the Marlins will continue to support Gordon: "I feel like Dee's one of my kids, to be honest with you, because I've known him so long."

Initial reaction around the majors was mixed. Cubs 2B Ben Zobrist said the bigger the star, the more upsetting the news of a drug suspension. "People are going to keep trying to find a way around just the hard work and everything that goes into this game," Zobrist said. "It's just the nature of man, I believe."

Gordon played during his appeal, which angered Tigers RHP Justin Verlander, who said on Twitter that performance-enhancing drug news was "killing me. If u test positive u need to not play. You shouldn't be allowed to effect (sic) games while appealing."

The suspension was the second in eight days for a player coming off the best season of his career. Last week, Chris Colabello, an undrafted former independent-leaguer who hit .321 for the Blue Jays last season, was also suspended 80 games.

BRYANT UPDATE: Cubs 3B/LF Kris Bryant had an MRI exam that revealed a minor right ankle sprain, the team announced.

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