FORT MYERS, Fla. - Minnesota Twins pitcher Ervin Santana was suspended for 80 games by Major League Baseball on Friday after testing positive for the performance-enhancing substance Stanozolol.
In a statement released through the players' union, Santana said he was surprised by the news but does not plan to appeal. New to the Twins this year, he'll miss the first half of the season.
This was the third penalty for a positive Stanozolol test reported by MLB in the last eight days, following Seattle pitcher David Rollins and Atlanta pitcher Arodys Vizcaino.
A person familiar with the penalties told The Associated Press that MLB will look into whether there's a common source to the three cases. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is not finished.
Santana signed a four-year, $55 million contract with the Twins after pitching last season with Atlanta. The 32-year-old righty will lose $5,901,639 of his $13.5 million salary this season.
In his statement, Santana issued his "deepest apologies" to his family, fans, colleagues, teammates and the Twins.
"I am very disappointed that I tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. I am frustrated that I can't pinpoint how the substance in question entered my body. I would never knowingly take anything illegal to enhance my performance. What I can guarantee is I never knowingly took anything illegal to enhance my performance. That's just not me, never has been and never will," Santana said.
"Ever since I was a child I always had to work harder than everyone. Not too many people believed I could become a major leaguer. I worked hard to achieve everything I accomplished and I take pride in proving that through hard work dreams can come true," he said.
Santana, acknowledging his status as a role model for youth in his native Dominican Republic, said he would never jeopardize the integrity of the sport, his family or his home country.
"I preach hard work, and don't believe in short cuts," Santana said. "Moving forward, I need to be more careful on what I consume in my home country. I will be more vigilant of medications I take so that I don't commit another mistake."
The Twins announced before their exhibition game against Boston that they will recall left-hander Aaron Thompson from Triple-A Rochester to take Santana's place on the staff. Thompson will go to the bullpen, and right-hander Mike Pelfrey will return to the rotation, team spokesman Dustin Morse said.
"All I can do now is continue to work hard, and when the suspension is up, come back to doing what I love," Santana said.
The Twins said they wouldn't comment beyond a statement they issued shortly after the suspension was announced.
"We were disappointed to learn of the suspension of Ervin Santana for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program," the team said. "We fully support Major League Baseball's policy and its efforts to eliminate performance enhancing substances from our game."