About six weeks before he was suspended for 162 games for PED use, the Indians’ Marlon Byrd slugged a go-ahead home run to beat the Tigers’ Justin Verlander.
When Byrd’s second career PED suspension was announced on Wednesday, Verlander reacted with an angry face emoji on Twitter.
Verlander, an outspoken critic of PED users in baseball, has declined to comment further, saying his beliefs are well-known and that he doesn’t want to repeat himself every time a player is suspended.
“And I’m sure there will be another one,” Verlander told Newsday on Thursday.
Verlander isn’t alone among pitchers who are ticked off that they gave up home runs to Byrd, a former Mets outfielder.
Retired pitcher Dan Haren, who gave up four homers to Byrd over the years, tweeted: “Can I get back all the home runs he hit off me please thanks.”
As Buster Olney pointed out on his ESPN.com blog, Byrd kept playing after he knew he had tested positive (mid-May) but before his suspension was announced. Players are allowed to keep playing until their due process rights under MLB’s drug policy are exhausted.
Byrd, 38, says he inadvertently ingested a banned substance in what he called “a tainted supplement.” He was batting .270 with five home runs and 19 RBIs.
None of this is about the moral side of taking PEDs or whether baseball’s drug policy is too harsh or too lenient. The point is that PED users are impacting games both before and after they test positive, and some players are not happy to learn they were not competing on a level playing field.
Free-agent pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, who was with the Padres’ Triple-A team until Wednesday, gave up four hits in 13 at-bats to Byrd. The 12-year major-leaguer also let loose on Twitter.
“Marlon Byrd is a joke,” Guthrie posted. “All you cheaters are a joke. Do it the right way one time, accept your ups & downs.”
Byrd isn’t the only player suspended for PEDs in 2016 who has affected games this season.
The first player suspended during the season was lefthanded reliever Daniel Stumpf of the Phillies, who was banned for 80 games on April 14.
Stumpf appeared in three games, including two against the Mets. He had a 40.50 ERA at the time of his suspension, but he did help the Phillies beat the Mets, 1-0, on April 9.
Stumpf got Curtis Granderson — the only man he faced and the last one for 80 games — on a fly ball to right with the tying run on second in the seventh inning. Stumpf’s suspension was announced five days later.
Stumpf said he “had no clue” what he had taken to test positive for a banned substance.
Blue Jays first baseman Chris Colabello was suspended for 80 games on April 22. He was batting .069 (2-for-29) with one RBI at the time of his suspension. The RBI came on April 17 in a 5-3 victory over the Red Sox.
Colabello said he is investigating how he tested positive for a banned substance.
“I’m working toward finding answers,” he told Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, “and won’t stop until I do.”
The highest-profile player to get suspended this season was second baseman Dee Gordon of the Marlins, who won the NL’s batting title in 2015 and signed a $50-million contract extension in January.
Gordon hit .333 last season and led the NL in hits (205) and stolen bases (58). He was an All-Star and finished 16th in the NL MVP voting.
Gordon was banned 80 games in a suspension announced on April 29. He was batting .266 at the time and said he didn’t know what he had taken to test positive for a banned substance.
The good news for the Marlins is that Gordon’s replacement, Derek Diet rich, was batting .311 with three home runs and 22 RBIs before getting hit in the wrist with a pitch on Wednesday.
Dietrich, who is day-to-day, started 25 games in May and hit .333. He also was hit in the back of the head with a ball in the dugout on Sunday and spent the night in the hospital, but returned to the field.
Dietrich has never had more than 250 at-bats in a season. Gordon is eligible to return from his suspension on July 29.
The four other players suspended for PEDs in 2016 were either banned in spring training, were injured at the time or were in the minors.
Banned by baseball
PED suspensions in 2016
Player Team Date No. of games
Jenrry Mejia Mets Feb. 12 Lifetime*
Abraham Almonte Indians Feb. 26 80
Daniel Stumpf Phillies April 14 80
Chris Colabello Blue Jays April 22 80
Dee Gordon Marlins April 29 80
Josh Ravin Dodgers May 2 80
Raul Mondesi Jr. Royals May 10 50#
Marlon Byrd Indians June 1 162+
*Third PED suspension
#Reduced from 80 games on appeal
+Second PED suspension