A Yankees’ Suspension and the Minor League PED Infestation

Another one bites the dust. Well, at least for 80-games. The New York Yankees’ Minor League reliever Wilking Rodriguez was suspended for performance enhancing drugs yesterday by Major League baseball.

Rodriguez came to the Yankees on a minor league deal this spring after making his big league debut last season with the American League champion Kansas City Royals. The 25-year old righty out of Venezuela has had a decent Minor League career as both a reliever and a starter. He has amassed an 11-28 record with 3.78 ERA and 1.23 WHIP while striking out nearly a batter per inning. 

He was expected to come out of the bullpen for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate. With the pitching woes the Yankees struggled with last season, there was a good chance that Rodriguez would have seen the Bronx this season with a good performance. Those plans are now on hold.

Rodriguez was suspended for the PED Furosemide. According to MiLB.com the drug is primarily used to help people with fluid retention from congestive heart failure, liver disease or kidney disorders. It was being used in the horse racing industry, but they had banned it in 2012. Apparently, Rodriguez felt this would give him an edge.

He is the second player suspended for Furosemide this season, and the 46th Minor Leaguer to be popped for violating the drug program. The past few weeks have seen several pitchers, such as the Braves’ Arodys Vizcaino and the Mariners’ David Rollins, get 80-game suspensions for the PED Stanozolol. It is getting out of hand. 

Why is this a renewed problem in Minor League baseball? Is 80 games not imposing enough? Is that a small blip on a prospects’ career radar that they are willing to gamble on being lumped in with the dark ages now known as the Steroid Era of baseball? It seems like a risk not worth taking.

“It’s a risk that players take when they don’t know what they put in their body, or they take something that they know is illegal and think they’re going to get away with it,” Joe Girardi told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com (link in tweet). ”I don’t understand it, but it’s the world we live in.”

Perhaps the solution is stricter guidelines. Perhaps someone needs to be made an example of to send the message. Gambling was a part of baseball for many years. When Pete Rose was suspended from the game for life, we seemingly didn’t hear about gambling again until this past offseason with Jarred Cosart. Perhaps the next Minor Leaguer who thinks that 80 games is worth the risk of ruining the integrity of the game should be shown the door for life. That would certainly cut the risk down substantially amongst prospects.

It’s a sad and curious time for Minor League baseball. They are in a state where it seems suspensions may not be enough to address the recent PED problem. If the current trend is accurate one thing is for certain: this won’t be the last suspension of 2015.