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Pierce makes third Cardinals suspension since August

With all the recent focus on the “Biogenesis 13,” and specifically the St. Louis Cardinals’ signing of shortstop Jhonny Peralta, many tend to forget or at least overlook that performance enhancing drug-related suspensions continue to be relatively common in the minor leagues.

As the 50-game suspension of State College pitcher Andrew Pierce was announced on Wednesday, it marked a rough stretch of recent PED suspensions for the Cardinals. Pierce will be serving the third penalty handed down to an organization player in the last five months. This follows a period of almost a year between suspensions – from September 2012 until August 2013.

Overall, the calendar year 2013 was not overly high on the suspension front, though. Just two were busted, after five Cardinals were caught during 2012. In fact, last year tied 2011 for the fewest positive tests among Cardinals since 2007. To help keep matters in context, at any given time, there can be as many as 250 or more minor leaguers under contract. For those wondering about timing, players are randomly tested year-round.

It is also interesting to note that of the eight players to have been caught over the last 24 months, only three are still with the organization today – catcher Cody Stanley, infielder Brett Wiley and Pierce. The latter two will sit out the first 50 games of the upcoming 2014 season.

Two other current Cardinals had failed tests before joining the organization. In those cases, the players had to serve out their 50 games immediately upon signing with St. Louis. Shortstop Diory Paulino (Red Sox) and pitcher Estarlin Arias (Nationals) completed their suspensions last season and are active on the Dominican Summer League Cardinals roster.

The complete list of 30 Cardinals minor league drug-related suspensions back to 2005 follows.

Date Player Name Substance Length
4/4/2005 Sal Frisella not announced 15 games
5/13/2005 Jeremy Cummings not announced 15 games
4/18/2006 Yonathan Sivira not announced 50 games
8/2/2006 Marcos Chavez not announced 50 games
8/2/2006 Jonathan Gonzalez not announced 50 games
2/20/2008 Scott Vander Weg not announced 50 games
7/29/2008 Braulin Beltre Boldenone 50 games
7/29/2008 Andres Beras Boldenone 50 games
7/29/2008 Yedilson Pena Boldenone 50 games
8/25/2008 Juan Castillo # Stanozolol 50 games
12/1/2008 Wilfred Vivas Methandienone 50 games
4/9/2009 Deryk Hooker Drug of Abuse 50 games
5/15/2009 Kenny Maiques Drug of Abuse 50 games
6/23/2009 Dail Villanueva Nandrolone 50 games
10/6/2009 Alan Ahmady Amphetamine 50 games
12/4/2009 Jefferson Segundo Stanozolol 50 games
12/21/2009 Tyler Bighames Drug of Abuse 50 games
8/31/2010 Jean Carlos De La Cruz Boldenone 50 games
8/31/2010 Delvi Rodriguez Boldenone 50 games
9/30/2010 Lainer Bueno Clenbuterol 50 games
6/24/2011 Andrew Moss Drostanolone 50 games
11/1/2011 Reggie Williams Methylhexaneamine 50 games
3/6/2012 Erick Hurtado* Stanozolol 50 games
3/27/2012 Cody Stanley # Methylhexaneamine, Tamoxifen 50 games
4/19/2012 Jose Pasen Nandrolone 50 games
6/25/2012 Michael Swinson Methylhexaneamine 50 games
9/6/2012 Alan Ahmady Drug of Abuse 50 games
8/22/2013 Yoenny Gonzalez not announced 50 games
9/4/2013 Brett Wiley # Amphetamine 50 games
1/22/2014 Andrew Pierce # Amphetamine 50 games
#  = active in org
* = signing voided

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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15 Responses to “Pierce makes third Cardinals suspension since August”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    Some of the recent suspensions seem especially much ado about nothing.

    Consider the 5 suspensions with identified substances in 2008, in the table above. These were steroids likely taken by players in the Dominican or Venezuelan leagues. This probably indicates youngsters and their handlers were pumping them up via steroid injections. This kind of practice has apparently been declining and this is welcome. Yes, they nabbed 2 in 2009, 3 in 2010, and oddly Moss in 2011 and bonus baby Hurtado in 2012. Nobody at all in 2013, a far decline from 5 in 2008.

    Recently there is increasing detection of Methylhexamine and it is questionable the athlete is gaining anything from this molecule. It may be a molecule in some “energy drink” and lads are showing poor judgment to ingest some drink whose contents they do not know.

    Something that might help the table above is a column that indicates how a substance is received. Is the molecule an injection into the blood stream (bypassing the stomach) or is it something that can be ingested or inhaled?
    My guess is Swinson and Stanley swilled an energy drink and got caught for this methylhexamine stuff, a far cry from injecting muscle developing steroids into the blood stream. Tamoxifen is an anticancer molecule, IIRC, from a fir tree. If Stanley took some, should anyone care? Is this helping him in some way? Probably not.

    I approve of suspending Wiley. He got caught taking an amphetamine during the season. This gave him a mental surge and its against the rules. He should be suspended and was. Good.

    Pierce has now been caught taking an amphetamine, in the off season, though this provides no lasting benefit and will not help him during 2014’s season. Its a technical grounds for suspension, but unimportant in terms of fair competition. Big Brother MLB is now regulating the off season behavior of players, though this has zippo to do with the integrity of the game. Pierce has learned a painful lesson about watching what he ingests during the off season, but his offseason use of an amphetamine has no baseball performance impact.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    The only bonus baby in the list above was Erik Hurtado, a big lefty from Santo Domingo who we wanted to give a half million or so, to sign. After his contract was voided, Hurtado signed with Luhnow’s Astros for 2012 and must have been let go. Last year, he threw one inning for a Yankee affiliate. For 2014, Hurtado has signed with the Blue Jays, the third franchise to explore his potential.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    In the table above, catcher Juan Castillo retired this past summer, from Palm Beach. His name could be de-bolded.

    Deryk Hooker did pitch for us this past season, before earning minor league free agency. Hooker is about the most successful of the Cards athletes who have received suspensions. We kept him in the system as long as contractually allowed.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Castillo and Hooker help illustrate how the Cards do not further discriminate against those who are suspended. We employed Hooker until he earned free agency, and its nice to see that we have wooed Juan Castillo back into the fold.
      Castillo did a solid job in the Midwest League during 2012. He must have been injured or become disheartened playing in the Florida State L league last summer. The Cards must have encouraged him to give this level another try.

      • blingboy says:

        Jumbo, your warm hearted outlook is nice on a day when it is 4 degrees outside. Thank you. IIRC, you reside in a cold weather locale as well, so you must be resistant to the cold winter blues.

        • JumboShrimp says:

          Dec 21 is the shortest day in the northern hemisphere. Darkness begets gloom. Yet we are now past Dec 21 and everyday from hereon is getting longer, with more sunlight every day.
          This morning, here on the Hoosier Riviera, it was at least minus 11 on the thermometer. Across the lake in Chicago, is would have been colder, since in winter the lake provides a few degrees of warming to its eastern shore.

  4. Bw52 says:

    Seems like the majority of the list come from latin countries.Desperate enough to try anything or ignorance of whats not allowed?

  5. crdswmn says:

    Apparently Ryan Braun got a standing ovation from fans at the Brewers fan gathering over the weekend.

    I could say a lot of things about this, but I’ve come to understand that my personal moral compass doesn’t mesh with the mainstream.

    • blingboy says:

      Brewers fans are best off trying to make the best of it since he will be there for a long time, regardless of what they privatly think of his integrity. As he moves up into his 30s pulling down $20M per he better hope he can stay healthy and productive, or it will get awkward.

      • Brian Walton says:

        A few weeks ago, Will Carroll, who is a national injury reporter, tweeted that he wondered how Cardinals fans could boo Braun this season since the team signed Peralta.

        Because Carroll is well-respected, I engaged him in discussion. That turned out to be a mistake as he was just trolling.

        His logic is that the crimes are identical, with the only difference between the two being that Braun “resisted arrest.” Apparently resisting arrest is not an incremental crime with its own additional punishment wherever Carroll comes from. Then there is the issue of multiple occurrences that further differentiates the two offenders.

        Carroll waved off my points as me pushing a “narrative.” I replied that I was simply offering another point of view. When Joe Strauss joined the other side of the discussion, I knew it was time to disengage, which I did. It served as a good reminder that Twitter is not the ideal place for meaningful discussion.

  6. crdswmn says:

    Alex Rodriguez has been offered a summer job coaching a collegiate baseball team for $5,000 plus free coffee and donuts.

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