SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Mariners All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano was suspended 80 games for violating baseball’s joint drug agreement.
The league announced Cano’s suspension Tuesday, a stunning development for the stalwart in the middle of the Mariners’ lineup and a club expected to contend for a postseason spot in the American League. Cano tested positive for Furosemide, a diuretic. In a statement released through the players’ association, Cano said, “This substance was given to me by a licensed doctor in the Dominican Republic to treat a medical ailment.” He said he didn’t realize it was banned.
“For more than fifteen years, playing professional baseball has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life. I would never do anything to cheat the rules of the game that I love, and after undergoing dozens of drug tests over more than a decade, I have never tested positive for a Performance Enhancing Substance for the simple reason that I have never taken one,” Cano said in the statement.
“Today I decided to accept MLB’s suspension. This was the most difficult decision I have ever made in my life, but ultimately the right decision given that I do not dispute that I was given this substance. I apologize to my family, friends, fans, teammates and the Mariners organization.”
It’s the first major strike in a career that has Hall of Fame potential. Cano was trending toward becoming one of the few current players with a chance to reach 3,000 hits in his career and has been a consummate defensive standout. Cano is an eight-time All-Star but now must deal with the stigma of a suspension.
“Robinson made a mistake. He has explained to us what happened, accepted the punishment and has apologized to the fans, the organization and his teammates. We will support Robinson as he works through this challenge,” the Mariners said in a statement.
The timing of the suspension comes on the heels of Cano suffering the first significant injury of his tenure in Seattle. Cano landed on the disabled list Monday after breaking a bone in his right hand after getting hit by a pitch during Sunday’s game in Detroit. He was scheduled to meet with a hand specialist in Philadelphia early Tuesday.
Cano can serve his suspension while on the disabled list but is now ineligible for the postseason should the Mariners get there and end the longest playoff drought in the four major professional sports. He will also lose his salary during the suspension, expected to be around $11 million.
Even if the injury is on the shorter end of the recovery period, Cano’s suspension will last until the middle of August. Since 2007, Cano has played at least 150 games each season.
This season, Cano was hitting .287 with four home runs and 23 RBIs in 39 games. He’s appeared healthier and quicker than the past few seasons when he’s played through leg injuries that at times limited his range.