Oakland A’s: What Ramón Laureano’s PED suspension means

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JULY 03: Ramon Laureano #22 of the Oakland Athletics bats against the Boston Red Sox in the bottom of the 11th inning at RingCentral Coliseum on July 03, 2021 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JULY 03: Ramon Laureano #22 of the Oakland Athletics bats against the Boston Red Sox in the bottom of the 11th inning at RingCentral Coliseum on July 03, 2021 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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As the Oakland A’s continue to chase the Houston Astros for the American League West lead, they were dealt a big hurdle to overcome on Friday.

Outfielder Ramón Laureano was suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball on Friday after reportedly testing positive for Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Laureano’s suspension began immediately and will last into the 2022 season as the A’s played their 110th game of the 162-game campaign on Friday night.

Here’s what Ramón Laureano’s PED suspension means for the Oakland A’s

At the time of the suspension, Laureano was slashing .246/.317/.443 with 14 home runs and 39 RBI. His 2.4 bWAR was the fifth-highest for the A’s this season, showing his importance to a team battling for a Wild Card spot.

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This, however, marks the second time in two seasons that Laureano has been suspended. Last season, Laureano charged the Houston Astros bench after reportedly hearing a derogatory remark about his mother from Houston hitting coach Alex Cintron. Laureano had his suspension for the July incident reduced from six games to four by Major League Baseball.

“At the end of the day, I’m here to win a World Series with the Oakland Athletics — this wonderful group of guys. I don’t want to be a distraction,” Laureano said after the altercation with the Astros last season.

Well, Laureano has once again become a distraction for the A’s. Oakland traded for Starling Marte before the trade deadline and he is now playing center field, a deal which moved Laureano to right field. Marte’s bat can help the Oakland lineup, but the A’s will now need to find a replacement in right and in the lineup for Laureano.

The A’s recalled Seth Brown from Triple-A to take Laureano’s roster spot, but Brown has struggled this season at the plate, hitting just .199 in his 79 games this season with Oakland. On Friday night, Mark Canha started in right with Josh Harrison taking over in left. Canha is expected to primarily play left field for the rest of the regular season.

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Could a mixture of players, including Brown, Harrison, Stephen Piscotty, and others be enough to form enough of a patchwork in right field and at the plate to keep the A’s afloat in their quest for an American League postseason spot? We’ll find out, starting this weekend.