Bartolo Colon suspended 50 games for positive test

Associated Press Modified: August 23, 2012 at 11:08 am •  Published: August 23, 2012
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — In the 2½ hours it took the Oakland Athletics to wrap up a series win against the Twins, Bartolo Colon's belongings were removed from his locker and his nameplate taken down.

His replacement arrived from Triple-A, too.

Colon received a 50-game suspension Wednesday for testing positive for testosterone, and the A's disconnected themselves from the former Cy Young Award winner in a hurry. He left his teammates stunned and frustrated, some angry that a guy they thought they knew would take such a risk trying to gain an edge at age 39.

The A's now know what the Giants went through across San Francisco Bay.

What a devastating week it has been for the Bay Area's two contending baseball teams. First, it was All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera of the Giants suspended 50 games for testosterone last Wednesday, then Colon exactly a week later for the same banned substance.

"I think the league is doing the best they can with it, and therefore the policy and program is catching people," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "I don't know how much more you can do than that."

Major League Baseball made the announcement of Colon's penalty a week after suspending Cabrera.

"I apologize to the fans, to my teammates and to the Oakland A's," Colon said in a statement released by the players' association. "I accept responsibility for my actions and I will serve my suspension as required by the joint drug program."

He will miss the final 40 games of the regular season and the first 10 games of the postseason if Oakland advances that far. Any remainder of the suspension would be served in a future season, if Colon signs another major league contract.

"It's a shock," Oakland reliever Grant Balfour said. "He's a guy that we're definitely relying on right now. I guess you could say it's bad timing any time, but especially now."

Oakland, which hasn't made the playoffs since 2006, was preparing for an afternoon series finale against Minnesota when players got the news from clubhouse televisions. A closed-door team meeting was called.

"The Oakland Athletics are disappointed to learn of today's suspension," the A's said in a statement.

Starter Brandon McCarthy took that a little further.

"You can say someone's a good teammate, but it has to extend in all facets," McCarthy said after a 5-1 win. "Off the field, on the field and how you are in the clubhouse, no matter how you look at it, we've now lost a really important part of our team to his actions."

General manager Billy Beane received word from MLB earlier Wednesday and began searching for a starter to take Colon's turn in the rotation Thursday at Tampa Bay. Tyson Ross was called up from Triple-A Sacramento and moved into Colon's clubhouse spot.

"It shocked all of us just the fact someone got caught for that," Ross said.

Beane addressed the A's in the clubhouse before the team took the field for pregame warm-ups.

"Listen, it's disappointing. From a baseball standpoint, we're scrambling," Beane said. "We're all disappointed, not just for the Giants and the A's, but for baseball."

Colon is 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts this season, his first with the A's, and has a 171-122 record in 15 big league seasons. A two-time All-Star, the burly right-hander won the 2005 AL Cy Young Award after going 21-8 for the Los Angeles Angels.

Colon will lose the remaining $469,945 of his $2 million base salary this year. He also has earned $750,000 in performance bonuses based on starts and $150,000 based on innings, which are not affected. Thursday's start would have earned him another $250,000, and the suspension will cost him the chance to make $850,000 in additional bonuses based on innings.

"It is what it is. We certainly don't support the actions, but you have to move forward," Melvin said. "You go through things over the course of the season. This is just one of them. ... You have to have a short memory."

Five players have been suspended this year under the big league drug program. San Francisco reliever Guillermo Mota was penalized 100 games in May following his second positive test and is eligible to return Aug. 28. Philadelphia infielder Freddy Galvis and free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd were suspended 50 games each in June.