(Reuters) - Philadelphia Phillies All-Star catcher Carlos Ruiz was suspended 25 games after testing positive for an amphetamine, Major League Baseball (MLB) said on Tuesday.
The suspension of Ruiz, who set career-highs in batting average (.325), runs batted in (68) and home runs (16) last season, is effective at the start of the 2013 regular season.
Ruiz, the seventh major league player to be suspended in 2012 for using performance enhancing drugs, will be eligible to participate in spring training, including exhibition games, MLB said in a statement.
Earlier this month, San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal was banned 50 games after testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone.
Ruiz, 33, will be barred from playing in the regular season until an April 28 road game at the New York Mets.
“The Phillies fully support Major League Baseball’s drug program,” Philadelphia General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “We are disappointed by the news of this violation of the program.”
The suspension will likely make Erik Kratz the Phillies’ starting catcher to open the 2013 season.
Last season, the 32-year-old Kratz hit .248 with nine home runs and 26 RBIs in 50 games for Philadelphia.
Ruiz’s absence in the first month of the regular season means catching prospects Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle could get closer looks in spring training as the Phillies will need a backup.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue