By Lauren Burgoon
The struggling Phillies were dealt a huge blow Monday when relief pitcher Antonio Bastardo agreed to a 50-game suspension for using banned performance-enhancing drugs.
Bastardo, 27, is implicated in a far-reaching performance-enhancing drug scheme that swept across Major League Baseball and took down 13 players Monday, Fox Sports reports.
As a pitcher for the BlueClaws during the 2007 season Bastardo was a star going 9-0 for the local affiliate according to the team’s website.
Attention has centered around the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, who was slapped with a suspension through 2014. But a dozen other players agreed to lesser suspensions; Bastardo’s inclusion on the list came as a surprise to some.
It also comes at an awful time for the Phillies, whose post-All Star game slump has the team 10.5 games back in the National League East.
“Antonio Bastardo's suspension makes a Phillies bullpen that has been the worst in the NL even thinner. His 2.32 ERA was best on the team,” Yahoo! Sports's Jeff Passan tweeted.
Bastardo made his major league debut in 2009 with the Phillies, and has been with the team since then. He holds a 3-2 record this season and a 15-11 record in the majors.
Phillies President David Montgomery said the organization is disappointed Bastardo was involved in doping:
"Obviously, the Phillies are very disappointed to learn of Antonio Bastardo's violation of Major League Baseball's Drug Program. We strongly believe in the program and look forward to a time when performance enhancing drugs are completely out of baseball. Hopefully the sanctions announced today will bring us closer to that day. We respect the fact that Antonio has acknowledged his serious mistake and accepted his 50-game suspension.”
Bastardo won’t be paid during the suspension and will lose $382,514 on his salary, according to Fox Sports.
The suspended baseball players reportedly were clients of Biogenesis, a Coral Gables, FL, “anti-aging clinic” that allegedly dispensed banned performance-enhancing drugs to major leaguers and other professional athletes. A disgruntled employee brought the operation down by releasing documents to the Miami New Times, sparking one of professional sports’ biggest doping investigations.
The 12 players named in the Biogenesis scandal who agreed to 50-game suspensions, according to AOL Sporting News, are:
Nelson Cruz, Rangers
Jhonny Peralta, Tigers
Jesus Montero, Mariners
Francisco Cervelli, Yankees
Everth Cabrera, Padres
Jordany Valdepsin, Mets
Antonio Bastardo, Phillies
Sergio Escalona, Astros
Fernando Martinez, Yankees (minor league)
Fautino de los Santos, Padres (minor league)
Cesar Puello, Mets (minor league)
Jordan Norberto, free agent