Valdespin, Puello receive 50-game suspensions
Mets Minor Leaguers accept bans for performance-enhancing drugs
NEW YORK -- Mets Minor League infielder Jordany Valdespin is among 12 players who have accepted 50-game suspensions for their connection to Biogenesis, a former anti-aging clinic in Florida linked to performance-enhancing substances, Major League Baseball announced Monday.
Mets Minor League outfielder Cesar Puello, who has been linked to Biogenesis in the past, has also accepted a suspension.
"We have and continue to support Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Testing program," the Mets said in a statement.
The suspensions flowed forth from a lengthy investigation into Biogenesis, the Anthony Bosch-led clinic linked to some of baseball's biggest stars. Along with Valdespin and Puello, the league suspended Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli and outfielder Fernando Martinez (a former Met), Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera and pitcher Fautino De Los Santos, Phillies pitcher Antonio Bastardo, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, Astros pitcher Sergio Escalona and free-agent pitcher Jordan Norberto.
In a separate announcement, MLB suspended Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez through the 2014 season for "his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including Testosterone and human Growth Hormone, over the course of multiple years," and "for attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation."
RULES FOR SUSPENDED PLAYERS
|What they can't do:|
|Cannot receive pay|
|Cannot participate in Arizona Fall League|
|Cannot participate in Postseason games|
|Cannot be elected or selected to the All-Star Game (if player is suspended during the offseason, Spring Training, or championship season prior to the All-Star Game)|
|What they can do:|
|Can participate in Spring Training and extended spring training|
|Can participate in affiliated Winter League games|
|Can work out with the club|
|Can participate in batting practice before the gates open before a game|
|Can consent to an assignment to a Minor League affiliate for a period of time prescribed under Section 7.H.2 of the Joint Drug Program|
"We continue to attack this issue on every front -- from science and research, to education and awareness, to fact-finding and investigative skills," MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Major League Baseball is proud of the enormous progress we have made, and we look forward to working with the players to make the penalties for violations of the Drug Program even more stringent and a stronger deterrent."
Valdespin, 25, hit .188 with four home runs in 33 at-bats for the Mets this season before being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas last month. He threw a clubhouse tantrum upon learning of his demotion, another mark on his lengthy track record of behavioral transgressions. For years, Valdespin has irked members of the Mets' organization with instances of poor conduct, leading to multiple punishments. He recently served a three-game suspension for his role in a benches-clearing incident at Las Vegas.
Valdespin was hitting .466 in 16 games for Las Vegas, winning Pacific Coast League Player of the Week honors in late July. He is a career .219 hitter with a .271 on-base percentage in the big leagues.
Puello, 22, was enjoying a breakout season with Double-A Binghamton, batting .328 with 16 home runs and 24 stolen bases in 90 games. He is the Mets' sixth-ranked player on MLB.com's 2013 Prospect Watch.
"The tools have always been there -- that's never been a question," Mets vice president of amateur scouting and player development Paul DePodesta recently said of Puello. "But he continues to get better in terms of being able to implement those tools on a day-to-day basis in the game. It's showing at Double-A, and I think that's really encouraging."
Puello declined comment when initially linked to Biogenesis in February, deferring all questions to the MLB Players Association.
Michael Weiner, the union's executive director, called Monday's suspensions "consistent with the punishments set forth in the Joint Drug Agreement," which was "arrived at only after hours of intense negotiations between the bargaining parties, the players and their representatives."