Orioles' Chris Davis suspended 25 games after testing positive for amphetamine

Slugger's ban would carry through at least 8 games of the postseason, if team advances that far

September 12, 2014|By Dan Connolly | The Baltimore Sun

Orioles infielder Chris Davis, Major League Baseball's most prodigious home run hitter last season and an outspoken opponent of performing-enhancing drugs, was suspended for 25 games Friday by the league for testing positive for the drug Adderall. It was his second failed test for an amphetamine in his career.

The suspension began Friday before the first-place Orioles' doubleheader against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards and will last beyond the first round of the playoffs, assuming the Orioles make the postseason.

Davis, whose offensive production has dropped dramatically in 2014, cannot be with the team while he is suspended and likely won't return to the field unless the Orioles reach the World Series.

The announcement disappointed his teammates and fans as the Orioles try to clinch their first AL East title since 1997. And it immediately raises concerns about the team's chances to build on its regular-season success even as team officials insisted they could weather the latest loss of another All-Star. Catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado are out for the season with injuries.

"I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Orioles organization and especially the fans. I made a mistake by taking Adderall," Davis said in a statement released on his behalf by the players union Friday. "I had permission to use it in the past, but do not have a therapeutic use exemption this year. I accept my punishment and will begin serving my suspension immediately."

For the most part, the Orioles are categorizing Davis' mistake as "unfortunate" and "surprising," but say it's just another challenge in a season full of them. The Orioles' magic number, a combination of Orioles wins and the second-place teams losses, for clinching the AL East was seven heading into Friday's night game.

"Everybody makes mistakes and you've just got to be careful when you make your mistakes. Now is not a good time to make a mistake," said right fielder Nick Markakis, one of baseball's most vocal proponents for strict drug testing. "These are things we have to deal with and, hopefully, we can get far enough along for him to come back and help us out."

And while Davis' teammates were moving forward, some fans had faith that the Orioles could overcome another obstacle.

"I'm optimistic we're going to rally around our guys," said Eric Debelius, a 24-year-old fan from Jarrettsville who hung out at Sliders bar before the game.

According to sources familiar with the situation, Davis previously had been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and received therapeutic use exemptions to take Adderall while he was with the Texas Rangers. According to baseball's joint drug prevention agreement, players must apply annually for the exemption, and the applications are reviewed by independent program administrator Dr. Jeffrey Anderson.

Davis was traded to Baltimore in July 2011 and re-applied for an exemption to use Adderall while with the Orioles — believed to be in 2012 — and was turned down. After his request was rejected, Davis did not re-apply. Several sources said he did not have an exemption to use the drug in 2012 or in 2013, when he set an Orioles' franchise record for 53 home runs.

MLB does not address these cases specifically, and would not comment on why Davis was denied an exemption after previously receiving one.

"At this point, it's not up to me to gauge what's fair and not fair. You take what's coming your way and your deal with it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We all make mistakes and none of us would like to have our whole lives judged by our worst decision. I think everybody has a grasp of what the policies are and we'll deal with it."

Davis, whose salary is $10.35 million this year, will lose roughly $961,500 through the end of the season because of the suspension. He could lose more depending on when the rest of the suspension is served because postseason pay is not considered salary. The 28-year-old Davis is eligible for arbitration one final time this offseason before becoming eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.

He is the second Oriole to be suspended in the last year for using Adderall. Former Orioles reliever Troy Patton tested positive at the end of last season for the amphetamine and had to sit out the first 25 games this year. Patton, who said he attempted to get an exemption for ADHD but was denied, was traded to the San Diego Padres for catcher Nick Hundley in May.

High use of Adderall in baseball

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