Byrd suspended 162 games for drug violation
CLEVELAND >> Marlon Byrd's second strike with performance-enhancing drugs cost him a full season — and maybe his career.
The Indians' veteran outfielder was suspended 162 games without pay by Major League Baseball on Wednesday after testing positive for Ipamorelin, a growth hormone releasing peptide. Byrd said in a statement he won't appeal.
"When I learned that I had tested positive for Ipamorelin, I retained the services of private counsel and an independent chemist to determine the origin of the Ipamorelin test result because I never knowingly ingested Ipamorelin," Byrd said. "After an extensive investigation by my lawyers and an independent chemist, it was concluded that the most likely source of Ipamorelin was a tainted supplement.
"I alone am responsible for what I put in my body, and therefore, I have decided for forgo my right to an appeal in this matter and accept the suspension," he added. "I apologize for any harm this has caused the Cleveland Indians, Indians' fans, my teammates, and most importantly, my family."
It's Byrd's second violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Shortly after he was released in 2012 by Boston, Byrd served a 50-game suspension for testing positive for Tamoxifen, a medication used by body builders but also to treat breast cancer in women and men.
In 2014, MLB increased its penalty for a second offense in 2014 from 100 games to a full season.
A third suspension would result in a lifetime ban. In February, New York Mets pitcher Jenrry Meija became the first player to receive that sanction. Byrd, Meija and New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez are the only players to receive 162-game suspensions.
Even if he's able stay clean, at 38, Byrd's playing days appear over.
He signed a minor league contract with Cleveland in March before getting a one-year, $1 million deal ahead of the season opener. Byrd gave the Indians much-needed veteran outfield depth because both left fielder Michael Brantley and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall were recovering from injuries.
Byrd has been productive, batting .270 with five homers and 19 RBIs in 34 games — mostly against left-handers. He went 4 for 4 with a homer on Monday night against Texas, and then struck out three times in a loss Tuesday. He spent last season with Cincinnati and San Francisco.
Byrd broke in with Philadelphia in 2002. He was an All-Star in 2010 with the Chicago Cubs, one of 10 teams he's played for. Following his first suspension, Byrd signed with the New York Mets in 2013.
Byrd goes on the restricted list, and to replace him on the active roster, the Indians recalled outfielder Tyler Naquin from Triple-A Columbus.
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