TORONTO (AP) — Blue Jays first baseman Chris Colabello was suspended Friday for 80 games without pay after testing positive for the same anabolic steroid that caused Philadelphia pitcher Daniel Stumpf to be disciplined last week.
The commissioner’s office said Colabello tested positive for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, which is sold under the name Turinabol.
“On March 13, I got one of the scariest and most definitely the least-expected phone calls of my entire life. I was informed by the players’ association that a banned substance was found in my urine,” Colabello said in a statement released by the union. “I have spent every waking moment since that day trying to find an answer as to why or how?”
The suspension means Colabello would be ineligible for postseason play should the Blue Jays reach the playoffs again this season. It also means Colabello will fall short of the service time required to become eligible for salary arbitration next winter.
Colabello is hitting .069 (2 for 29) with one RBI this season. While he was beaned by Boston pitcher Steven Wright last Sunday, he missed only one game.
He set career highs in several offensive categories last season as Toronto reached the playoffs for the first time since 1993. Colabello hit .321 with 15 homers and 54 RBIs while playing in a career-high 101 games.
“I would never compromise the integrity of the game of baseball,” Colabello said. “I am saddened more for the impact this will have on my teammates, the organization and the fans of the Toronto Blue Jays. I hope that before anyone passes judgment on me they can take a look at the man that I am, and everything that I have done to get to where I am in my career.”
Colabello informed his teammates of the suspension during a meeting before batting practice as Toronto prepared to host Oakland.
A 32-year-old who also plays the outfield, Colabello spent eight seasons in the minor leagues, seven of them in independent baseball, before reaching the big leagues with Minnesota in 2013.
“He’s fought the odds his whole life,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He’ll fight this.”
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins called Collabello “a remarkable person” and confirmed that attempts to appeal the suspension had been denied.
“It’s obviously a very difficult situation,” Atkins said. “My initial reaction was empathy, extreme disappointment. The combination of the two because of what it means to our team and what it means to him.”
Atkins said Colabello is permitted to work out at Toronto’s spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida, while he serves his suspension. Atkins indicated Colabello would likely begin a minor league rehab assignment about 10 days before his suspension is due to end.
Outfielder Kevin Pillar said Colabello told him about the positive test during Toronto’s season-opening series in Tampa Bay earlier this month. Pillar said he found it difficult to believe Colabello had knowingly used steroids.
“A guy like him would never do something like that,” Pillar said. “I believe him wholeheartedly. Especially with all the odds he had to overcome to get to the big leagues, he would never jeopardize it by doing anything like that.”
Gibbons expressed disappointment in Colabello’s suspension, saying he felt they had “a special bond.”
“I was the manager here when he kind of made it,” Gibbons said. “This hurts me just like it hurts him. I love the guy, you know? He’s beloved out there in that clubhouse.”
Justin Smoak will serve as the everyday first baseman in Colabello’s absence, Gibbons said.
Toronto filled Colabello’s roster spot by selecting the contract of left-hander Chad Girodo from Triple-A Buffalo. Right-handed Drew Hutchison is expected to be recalled to make a spot start on Sunday.
Colabello, who has played 225 big league games in parts of four seasons, will lose $227,891 of his $521,126 major league salary. He spent two seasons with the Twins before the Blue Jays claimed him on waivers in December 2014.
He is the sixth player suspended this year under the MLB drug program. New York Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia received a permanent ban following a third positive test, and Cleveland outfielder Abraham Almonte, Cincinnati outfielder Juan Duran, free-agent catcher Taylor Teagarden and Stumpf were suspended for 80 games each.