Phils’ catcher Carlos Ruiz, one of their most popular and productive players, was suspended by Major League Baseball on Tuesday for a violation of their substance abuse policy.
As the Inquirer’s Matt Gelb notes, Ruiz has been suspended 25 games, meaning the first game he’ll be able to suit up for in 2013 is on April 28 in New York against the Mets.
The banned substance in question is the ADHD drug Adderall, most commonly used by young people and students. Ruiz was suspended because this is the second time he has been found guilty by Major League Baseball of using the substance. His first test triggered more frequent testing, which led to this second positive test.
One wonders how Chooch could be foolish enough to continue using Adderall without the league’s permission, knowing he would undergo additional testing in the future.
Adderall is not considered a steroid, however, it is among baseball’s banned stimulants, and when used by people who do not suffer from ADHD, it can have effects similar to cocaine. It has been known to increase energy, alertness and stamina, and has been responsible for multiple violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy in the last few years. It is also one of the most abused drugs in the country, mostly by college students and young adults.
The Phillies released a statement after MLB’s announcement, saying “The Phillies fully support Major League Baseball’s Drug Program. We are disappointed by the news of this violation of the program. We will support Carlos in an appropriate manner and move forward to achieve our goal to play championship-caliber baseball in 2013.”
What effect this has on the Phils’ offseason plans and 2013 is still a question. The team can probably get by with back-up catcher Erik Kratz taking most of the starts, with a bargain basement free agent or AAA catcher filling the void as a temporary back-up until Chooch is eligible to return. However, as ESPN’s Jayson Stark notes, Ruiz’ suspension could have the Phillies thinking twice about dealing one of their two highly sought after catching prospects, Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle.
One more ripple effect of Ruiz’s suspension: #Phillies had been taking calls about dealing one of their young catchers. Need the depth now.
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) November 27, 2012
Will this prevent the Phils from moving one of those two prospects? And just how much action were the Phillies getting on Joseph and Valle?
If the team feels they can get by with Kratz and a veteran FA for a month, they’d probably still go ahead and pull the trigger on moving one of their catchers. But it certainly creates a wrinkle they weren’t expecting.
At the end of the day, it’s a disappointing turn of events for a team that will certainly be looking to get off to a fast start next year, but must now do so without their best hitter in 2012.