BALTIMORE (CBSNewYork/AP) — Talk about a big blow to the O’s.
Orioles slugger Chris Davis was suspended 25 games without pay on Friday for using amphetamines, a punishment that will extend into the postseason.
Baltimore started play Friday leading the AL East by 10 games with 17 left in the regular season, so the team will be without the 2013 home run champion deep into the playoffs.
In a statement, Davis said: “I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Orioles organization and especially the fans. I made a mistake by taking Adderall. I had permission to use it in the past, but do not have a therapeutic use exemption this year. I accept my punishment and will begin serving my suspension immediately.”
Adderall is a drug often used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. It is, however, also known as a performance and cognitive enhancer.
The 28-year-old Davis informed manager Buck Showalter of the suspension on Thursday night. Davis is prohibited from entering the clubhouse during the ban.
This is the first time Davis ever failed a drug test in the majors. He has previously denied ever using performance enhancing drugs.
The Orioles are already without catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado, both of whom sustained season-ending injuries. The loss of Davis further hampers Baltimore’s chances of advancing in the playoffs.
“First of all, we got to get to the postseason,” Showalter said. “Our goal right now is to get there. It just means we will be without him for the rest of the regular season.”
Davis is batting .196 with 26 homers and 72 RBIs in 145 games, quite a dropoff from his numbers last year: .286 with 53 home runs and 138 RBIs.
“A lot of people would like to hit 25 to 30 home runs and drive in 80 runs,” Showalter said, projecting what might have been Davis’ final numbers for the season.
Davis never previously failed a drug test as a major leaguer, and during spring training he scoffed at accusations that his power surge came from performance-enhancing drugs.
“It was frustrating when it first came up last year, because what happened to me was the culmination of a lot of hard work over the years,” Davis said. “It was funny because people who didn’t even know me were accusing me of using PEDs. My response was: I’ve always had power. You go back to high school, Little League, minor leagues, college, I’ve always had power. It was just a matter of putting the ball in play consistently.”
Although Davis’ performance this year has tailed off significantly, he’s still been a big part of Baltimore’s surprising success.
He’s contributed several clutch hits, played solidly at first base and often manned third base in the wake of Machado’s departure.
“I’m disappointed,” Showalter said. “I know Chris is too. It is what it is. We’re going to try and deal with it and move on. The timing is never good. It’s one of those challenges.”
The Orioles immediately set out to make adjustments to cover his absence.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in our guys,” Showalter said. “I’m always looking at the what-ifs. We’ve had to plug some people in and they’ve done a nice job for us.”
Having already been forced to cope with the loss of Wieters and Machado, Showalter didn’t complain about the situation.
“You have to learn to deal with the problems and challenges along the way,” he said. “If they are self-inflicted, there is no woe is me. And this is self-inflicted.”
The suspension came as the Orioles were set to open a four-game series against the Yankees, who were 10 1/2 games back in the AL East.
“It’s disappointing any time a guy is suspended. You hate to see it in our game,” New York manager Joe Girardi said. “I don’t think we’ll ever get away from it unfortunately. I think people are always going to try and beat the system. We’re going to have to do deal with it.”
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