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Publish Date: 4/12/2005

Rockies brass mum after Piedra steroid suspension
By Patrick Ridgell

Major League Baseball on Monday suspended Colorado Rockies outfielder Jorge Piedra for 10 days for violating its new policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd and field manager Clint Hurdle declined to comment on Piedra’s suspension prior to Colorado’s game with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Both referred to a statement released by club president Keli McGregor.

“It is unfortunate that a player within our system tested positive for violation of Major League Baseball’s joint drug prevention and treatment program,” McGregor said in the statement. “As an organization we have, and will continue to support Major League Baseball and its drug testing policies.”

Piedra is on the Rockies 40-man roster and was tested during spring training. Piedra told MLB.com he will not fight the suspension. He said he inadvertently took a substance banned under baseball’s Drug Prevention and Treatment Program during the offseason while he dealt with hamstring and foot injuries.

“I am a little bit embarrassed that I put myself, my family and the Rockies in this situation, but it is what it is,” Piedra told the Web site. “I had taken some pills that I wouldn’t have taken if I thought I would fail a test. People are going to think what they want. No need for me to go crazy about what everybody else thinks at this point.”

Piedra said the pills he took were from an old prescription. He said he planned to have a detailed conversation with league officials to learn more about its banned substances, which include steroids and their precursors.

Piedra is the second major leaguer to be publicly identified for a positive drug test. Tampa Bay outfielder Alex Sanchez was the first. News of his suspension broke April 3. He’s serving his 10-day suspension.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig said he expects Piedra will not be the final major leaguer to test positive.

“It’s unfortunate,” Selig told the Associated Press in Boston. “I’m afraid this probably won’t be the last one.”

Piedra appeared in 36 games in 2004 with Colorado and hit .297. He did not make the club in spring training when the Rockies chose to go with Cory Sullivan as their fifth outfielder. Piedra began the season with Triple A Colorado Springs.

The Rockies recalled Piedra last Wednesday, prior to its 14-6 defeat to San Diego. Piedra appeared in the game as a pinch-hitter and returned after it to Colorado Springs, where he began the season hitting 3 for 10 with three RBIs.

SPLINTERS: Colorado is expected to activate relief pitcher Chin-hui Tsao and infielder Desi Relaford from the 15-day disabled list today. Tsao won the closer job in spring training but suffered from tendonitis in his right, pitching, rotator cuff and missed the start of the season. The Rockies will have to clear room on the roster for Tsao and Relaford by optioning other players to the minor leagues or through other moves.

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