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8 M’s minor leaguers suspended for steroids

Ronald Blum Associated Press

NEW YORK – Seattle’s Damian Moss and Ryan Christianson were among 38 players suspended Monday for violating baseball’s minor league steroids policy, a group that included eight players from the Mariners’ organization.

Oakland’s David Castillo was suspended for 60 games, the penalty for a third violation. All the others were suspended for 15 games, the ban given to first offenders.

Seven of the 38 positives came from the Chicago Cubs organization, five each from the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland and Texas, and four from San Diego. There were two from Colorado, and one each from St. Louis and the Chicago White Sox.

“The release speaks for itself,” Oakland assistant general manager David Forst said. “The program is in place and it’s working.”

The commissioner’s office said one suspension was the result of off-season testing and the rest stemmed from 925 tests conducted during spring training.

Last year, about 1.7 percent of the minor league tests for steroids were positive, baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said. Courtney did not know whether some teams had more players than others tested during spring training.

Sunday, Tampa Bay outfielder Alex Sanchez was suspended for 10 days, becoming the first major league player penalized under the sport’s toughened testing rules. Players with minor league contracts, who are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement, are tested for more banned substances. Amphetamines are on the minor league banned list but are not covered by the major league policy.

Ten of the players suspended have been released.

Also suspended for 15 games were Elvis Avendano (Oakland), Lizahio Baez (Texas), Oscar Bernard (Cubs), David Cash (Cubs), Troy Cate (Seattle), Robinson Chirinos (Cubs), William Collazo (Angels), Francisco Cordova (Angels), Renee Cortez (Seattle), Matthew Craig (Cubs), Jason Diangelo (Colorado), Jose Espinal (Chicago White Sox), Omar Falcon (Seattle), Paul Frisella (St. Louis), Jesus Guzman (Seattle), Justin Hatcher (Texas), Javier Herrera (Oakland), William Hogan (Seattle), Kevin Jacobo (San Diego), Ryan Leahy (Angels), Baltazar Lopez (Angels), Luis Perez (Oakland), Nathan Sevier (San Diego), Carlos Vazquez (Cubs) and Neil Wilson (Colorado).

The released players who were suspended were Willy Espinal (Texas), Alexander Francisco (Angels), Clay Hensley (San Diego), Robert Machado (Texas), Jesus Medrano (Cubs), Jacobo Meque (San Diego), Kevin Reinking (Cubs), Christopher Russ (Texas), Mayobanex Santana (Oakland) and Darwin Soto (Seattle).

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