Major League Baseball and manager Terry Francona have denied rumors that All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez has been suspended for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
A report circulated Tuesday afternoon out of the Dominican Republic that Ramirez would soon be informed of an 80-game suspension. The report appeared on a general blog in the Dominican Republic and was not connected to a legitimate news outlet.
Chris Antonetti, Indians president of baseball operations, contacted MLB to see if there was any truth to the rumors.
“I can share with you there is nothing to those rumors and we’ve confirmed with Major League Baseball that, that’s the case,” said Antonetti. “It’s an unsubstantiated report with no truth to it.”
Antonetti said that teams are not informed if one of their players has tested positive until after the player completes his appeal process.
“That’s usually the way it works because a player has the right to work his way through an appeal process,” said Antonetti.
Francona said that MLB has not informed the team of a suspension. He told reporters he talked to Ramirez, who denied the report.
“We talked to Josey just a couple of minutes ago,” Francona said. “He got a big kick out of it. One, Josey strenuously said there’s nothing to it. The other thing that’s probably every bit as important is when somebody tests positive, the league informs us.
“They haven’t. It’s a shame we have to address this. There’s really no more to address because we don’t know more.
“We literally found out 10 minutes ago. But, we would have known from the league and we don’t. So, there’s nothing there. I think that’s just best to leave it at that. That’s the truth.”
Said Antonetti, who addressed reporters in the press box at least a hour after Francona spoke, “We believed Jose when he told us that. It was helpful to get the additional confirmation from Major League Baseball.”
Forget the problems with the Indians’ bullpen. Losing Ramirez, who has become the engine that drives this team, for 80 games would be a devastating loss to the Tribe.
If a player tests positive for steriods, he is ineligible for the postseason.
“I didn’t have any anxiety about it going in,” said Antonetti, “but when you hear that it gives you pause. It’s great to hear that it’s not true at all.”
Ramirez is hitting .291 (58-for-199) in 51 of the Indians’ 52 games this season. He leads the team with 15 homers and 37 RBI.
On Sunday, his 17-pitch at-bat in the ninth inning spurred a dramatic comeback against Houston. The Indians not only scored five runs in the ninth inning to tie the score, but rallied for a 10-9 victory in 14 innings.
Last year Ramirez was the AL’s starting third baseman at the All-Star Game. After the year he was won the Silver Slugger award for AL third baseman.
Two years ago the Indians had two big-league players suspended for steroid use — outfielders Abraham Almonte and Marlon Byrd. Almonte is playing with Kansas City this year. Byrd retired after his suspension.