Volquez suspension offers a different kind of black eye to sport

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The rumors started circulating Monday evening that Major League Baseball was getting set to announce a suspension for a player who used performance-enhancing drugs.

After a full day of speculation on Tuesday, the league finally announced that Cincinnati Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez was the culprit. Now before we start making jokes that the only reason Volquez took steroids was to build his arm up enough to be able to last a full season in a Dusty Baker rotation, remember that he is currently on the disabled list, and will probably miss the entire season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The outrage here isn't the fact that he took steroids. I am pretty sure we have all moved past the shock and awe of players testing positive for steroids. Sadly, a steroid suspension is no different these days than your run of the mill DL stint.

No, the outrage here is that Volquez gets to serve the suspension starting tomorrow, meaning he loses 50 games worth of pay, but the Reds don't really lose anything, since he wasn't going to pitch for them this season anyway.

Edinson Volquez was suspended 50 games for PED use.
Where is the punishment? The fine is pretty hefty, as he will lose roughly $137,000 of the $445,000 he was slated to earn this year, but this is really a joke.

It was dumb last year when baseball allowed Manny Ramirez to play in minor league games right before he was eligible to play, but this makes even less sense.

So based on the above decision, what would stop Minnesota's Joe Nathan from doing the same thing? Why not take the drugs, tell MLB, and have them hand down a 50-game ban tomorrow?

Nathan isn't going to pitch anytime in the next 50 days, but maybe the drugs get him back on the field a few months early, like in time for a playoff run.

Volquez, of course, offered up a lame, albeit original, excuse.

"Prior to the conclusion of last season, my wife and I sought medical advice in Cincinnati with the hope of starting a family," Volquez said in a release. "As part of my consultation with the physician, I received certain prescribed medications to treat my condition.

As a follow up [sic] to our original consultation, my wife and I visited another physician in our home city in the Dominican Republic this past off- season. This physician also gave me certain prescribed medications as part of my treatment. Unfortunately, I now know that the medication the physician in the Dominican gave me is one that is often used to treat my condition, but is also a banned substance under Major League Baseball's drug policy. As a result, I tested positive when I reported to spring training."

Maybe I am a cynic. Well there is no maybe about it. I am. And I don't believe a word of his excuse. Sorry, baseball players don't get the benefit of the doubt anymore.

Either way, baseball continues to look bad. On the one hand if we take Volquez at his word, he comes out looking even worse because as I have stated before, MLB offers a 24-hour hotline for players to check to see which substances are legal to take. The "I didn't know it was illegal" plea does not fly.

Then again, maybe there are still MLB players simply dumb enough to get caught.

Here is what I think happened. I think Volquez knowingly took steroids because he knew they would help his recovery, and that basically he would lose no time on the field if he got caught. Simple as that. Actually not a bad plan when you think about it.

"I want to assure everyone that this was an isolated incident involving my genuine effort to treat a common medical issue and start a family," Volquez added. "I was not trying in any way to gain an advantage in my baseball career.

I am embarrassed by this whole situation and apologize to my family, friends, fans, teammates, and the entire Reds Organization for being a distraction and for causing them any difficulty. I simply want to accept the consequences, learn from the mistake, and continue to strive to be the best person and baseball player I can be."

Sorry brother, peddle it elsewhere.

By the way, when Cincinnati acquired Volquez from Texas for Josh Hamilton, who would have guessed that of that duo, Volquez would be the one serving the suspension for testing positive for drugs?

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.
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