(Reuters) - Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano was suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive for the diuretic furosemide, violating MLB’s joint drug agreement.
The suspension is effective immediately. Already on the disabled list with a broken hand suffered last week, the games Cano misses while on the DL will count toward his suspension. Cano, who will not be eligible to return to the field until mid-August, will also be ineligible for the postseason should the Mariners reach the playoffs due to the suspension.
Furosemide is a diuretic, commonly known as Lasix, that is used to treat horses. It has also been known to be used as a masking agent by track athletes.
“Recently I learned that I tested positive for a substance called Furosemide, which is not a Performance Enhancing Substance,” Cano said in a statement. “Furosemide is used to treat various medical conditions in the United States and the Dominican Republic. This substance was given to me by a licensed doctor in the Dominican Republic to treat a medical ailment. While I did not realize at the time that I was given a medication that was banned, I obviously now wish that I had been more careful.
“For more than 15 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.”
ESPN’s T.J. Quinn reported that baseball players are not automatically suspended for using diuretics and that the suspension means MLB was able to prove he was using it to mask a drug. Quinn reported that Cano tested positive before the season, appealed the suspensions and subsequently dropped the appeal. He will lose more than $11 million in salary during the suspension.
“Today I decided to accept MLB’s suspension,” Cano said in his statement. “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 family, friends, fans, teammates and the Mariners organization. I am extremely grateful for the support I have received during this process, and I look forward to rejoining my teammates later this season.”
The Mariners also released a statement, reading: “We were disappointed to learn today that Robinson had violated the terms Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Our organization fully supports the Program.
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.”
Cano was expected to see a specialist on Tuesday after fracturing the fifth metacarpal in his right hand on Sunday when he was hit by a pitch. He told reporters on Sunday he was unsure if surgery would be needed. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that the timing of the suspension was coincidental as the case was already pending at the time of Cano’s injury.
The 35-year-old is batting .287 with four home runs and 23 RBIs in 39 games this season.
The eight-time All-Star has played in at least 122 games in each of his previous 13 seasons and at least 150 in 11 of them. He has earned three All-Star appearances in four seasons since joining the Mariners in 2014, batting .294 with 101 homers and 384 RBIs in 663 games with Seattle.
Across 14 major league seasons with the Mariners and New York Yankees, Cano has a career average of .304 with 305 home runs and 1,206 RBIs. The latter number ranks fourth among all active players.
When Cano went on the disabled list Monday, the Mariners called up veteran infielder Gordon Beckham from Triple-A Tacoma. Beckham is expected to be Cano’s short-time replacement at second base. However, longtime second baseman Dee Gordon, now the Mariners’ center fielder, was doing drills at second base before the team’s Tuesday night game.
Gordon told reporters he is willing to transition back to second base, where he won a Gold Glove in 2015. Such a move would give the Mariners the option of trying to improve the lineup by seeking a trade for an infielder or an outfielder.
—Field Level Media
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Christian Radnedge