Mets' Jordany Valdespin suspended 50 games by MLB in Biogenesis probe

Mets center fielder Jordany Valdespin returns to the Mets center fielder Jordany Valdespin returns to the dugout after flying out in the bottom of the second. (April 26, 2013) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

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Jordany Valdespin added yet another line to his growing resume of misdeeds.

The Mets' minor-league utilityman was among the players suspended Monday by Major League Baseball as part of its Biogenesis probe. Valdespin elected not to appeal his 50-game suspension under baseball's Joint Drug Agreement, which effectively ended his season.

Those banned also included Mets minor-league outfielder Cesar Puello, who is considered one of the best position- player prospects in the organization. He also chose to forgo his appeal and immediately began his 50-game suspension without pay.

Puello's name previously was linked to the Biogenesis investigation, which has ensnared the likes of the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez and the Brewers' Ryan Braun. Valdespin's name was not previously connected with the investigation, which is why a team source said Monday that the Mets were caught off guard.

"We have and continue to support Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Testing program," read a 13-word statement released by the Mets, the organization's only public comment on the matter. General manager Sandy Alderson referred to the team's statement and declined further comment.

In separate but similarly worded statements released through their common attorney, Valdespin and Puello said they will not appeal their bans.

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"I made certain errors in judgment during the 2012 season and I accept full responsibility for those errors," Valdespin's statement read. Puello's statement made reference to taking responsibility for "certain mistakes during the 2012 season."

Both players are represented by Seth and Sam Levinson, founders of the Brooklyn-based ACES agency. Neither Puello nor Valdespin will count against the Mets' 40-man roster during their suspensions.

Puello is hitting .328 with 16 homers and 73 RBIs in 90 games during his breakout season with Double-A Binghamton. Despite playing at the highest level of his professional career, Puello has a career-best .955 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). One rival talent evaluator recently called him the most talented outfielder in the Mets' system.

Valdespin, 25, made the Opening Day roster as part of a platoon in the outfield, but his average dipped to .188 by the time he was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas before the All-Star break.

His on-field potential and production often have been overshadowed by antics that made him unpopular among his teammates. On Monday, one Met said that although he was somewhat surprised by Valdespin's PED use, the suspension "definitely confirms his stupidity."

Valdespin triggered tensions earlier this season when he showboated after a homer, then bristled when he was plunked in retaliation. He further enraged the organization when he threw a clubhouse tantrum upon being sent down, an outburst that was witnessed by Alderson and manager Terry Collins. The tirade came after the Mets rebuffed his request to be placed on the disabled list with a trumped-up injury rather than endure a demotion to the minors.

Valdespin's suspension casts further doubts upon his future with the organization.

He hit .466 with three homers with Las Vegas, but trouble followed him to the desert. Last week, he started a bench-clearing altercation when he admired a long home run against Sacramento. He eventually was suspended three games for the incident.

In the past, Valdespin has been reprimanded for other offenses such as insubordination and failing to run out ground balls, but the Mets have been enamored of his talent.

As recently as this past weekend, a source said Valdespin's name came up during discussions about how the Mets will handle the three-to-five-week absence of David Wright, who is out with a strained hamstring.

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Valdespin, a natural second baseman, could have rejoined the infield, with second baseman Daniel Murphy moving to third base, where he filled in capably for Wright in 2011. Such an alignment would allow the Mets to keep Eric Young Jr. in leftfield, thus keeping intact what has become a productive outfield during the last six weeks.

Instead, Valdespin's suspension eliminates his chances of a return this season. It opened the door for infield prospect Wilmer Flores, who was promoted Monday night.

Flores, 22, hit .322 with 15 homers and 86 RBIs for Las Vegas. He has played most of his games at second base this season, though he likely will play third base for the Mets to compensate for his limited range.

Parnell to the DL? Closer Bobby Parnell continues to feel lingering discomfort in his neck, leading the team to consider placing him on the disabled list, a source said. Parnell hasn't pitched since last Tuesday.

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