Photo Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Well this is certainly something. After word started to spread this afternoon of a closed-door, players-only meeting among the Jays, fans and reporters started to get a bit restless over what it might possibly have been about. It didn’t take long to find out:
Colabello suspended 80 games for PED. He called the team meeting and was the only one who spoke.
— John Lott (@LottOnBaseball) April 22, 2016
Colabello was “very emotional” according to further reports. He has since released a statement:
On March 13, I got one of the scariest and most definitely the least expected phone calls of my entire life. I was informed by the Players Association that a banned substance was found in my urine. I have spent every waking moment since that day trying to find an answer as to why or how? The only thing I know is that I would never compromise the integrity of the game of baseball. I love this game too much! I care too deeply about it. I am saddened more for the impact this will have on my teammates, the organization and the fans of the Toronto Blue Jays. I hope that before anyone passes judgement on me they can take a look at the man that I am, and everything that I have done to get to where I am in my career.
The drug in question is dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, which is the same substance that got Cardinals catcher Cody Stanley suspended last September, as well as Phillies pitcher Daniel Stumpf last week.
This is, of course, disappointing and confusing. Well… maybe unless you’re the Jays’ front office…
Ashen faced, the Blue Jays front office accepts the suspension of their replacement-level 1B/DH. “Tough but fair” they say behind high-fives
— Mr. Chainsaw (@DrewGROF) April 22, 2016
It’s easy to joke, especially since Colabello hasn’t been going well this season, but he was a key guy on the beloved 2015 Blue Jays, putting up a 142 wRC+ over 360 plate appearances, and became an incredible avatar of perseverance by becoming that key contributor in a juggernaut offence after toiling for years in independent ball, so you especially hate to see a thing like this happen.
Already there is a wave of support for the notion that this just can’t be right — that it seems so odd that after working so hard and so long to make it, that Colabello would be so cavalier about his baseball career (which is now in considerable jeopardy, as he’ll come back in half a season as a replacement level 1B/DH with a PED suspension hanging over him) as to do a thing like this. (On the other hand, once you get the taste of real big league success, maybe you go looking for something to give you an edge to stay there?)
For what little it’s worth, Barry Davis has tweeted that he has “every reason to believe Colabello when he says he had no intent. I know him and his family and it just doesn’t add up.” Kevin Pillar spoke to reporters about the “flawed” system and the “technicality” that caught his friend, saying that Colabello wants to work with Frank Mir (the MMA guy, presumably) to get to the bottom of this, which… is amazingly weird.
That he was ingesting a wide variety of shit maybe lends plausibility to the idea that this could have happened unknowingly, but ultimately what’s done is done. Colabello is out — he’s already appealed the suspension and lost, so he’ll go to Dunedin to work out, stay in shape, and will be allowed to begin a rehab assignment around the 70 game mark of his suspension — and one of the brighter spots on the Jays’ 2015 campaign, which was already looked at as a bit funny (because of the ridiculous .411 BABIP Colabello posted), now looks funnier still.
The Jays will go with Justin Smoak at first base for the foreseeable future (i.e. while future Blue Jay Justin Morneau gets healthy). Maybe they’ll bring up Jesus Montero. Colabello won’t be eligible for the playoffs, should the Jays make it. In the meantime, he’s off the active roster and left-handed reliever Chad Girodo is up (for now, at least, though the club also announced today that Drew Hutchison would come up and make a spot start this weekend, as part of the plan to manage the innings of guys like Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman).
So it goes.