Chris Colabello Gets 80 Game PED Suspension

Chris Colabello
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:

Yeesh.

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.

Um… OK.

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…

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.

He seems like a genuinely nice, likeable guy (though so do many players that we later find out are not), but beyond that, it was this long and beautiful love-of-the-game journey that took him from seven years of indy ball to the big leagues that made him so endearing. Perhaps it’s also what should have raised a red flag. 
I don’t know. The fact is, nobody what Colabello really knows what’s gone on here. He’s protesting his innocence, which is typical in these cases but means nothing. Maybe because of his personality — he’s beloved in the room, according to John Gibbons, and to Gibbons in particular — people will be willing to forgive. They certainly were when Marcus Stroman was suspended, though this one is different, as the substance Stroman tested positive for as a minor leaguer wasn’t even on MLB’s banned list, and the Jays could have avoided the suspension by adding him to the 40-man.

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.

Thing is, those who want to believe him will nod their approval for lines like that, those who don’t will think back to the litany of excuses we’ve heard for this stuff from athletes over the years and throw these ones onto the pile with them.
According to TSN’s Rick Westhead, Colabello provided investigators with “hundreds of vials of supplements/vitamins he took in recent months,” and that he told them he has “absolutely no idea” what he ingested that might have contained a banned substance.

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.

  • Barry

    Well, the subject of “narratives” was discussed here the other day. Colabello’s narrative was one of the great ones, and it’s just taken an ugly turn.

    Without getting into the ethics of PEDs, or blaming or defending the player, I think it’s a shame for the fans that one of the feel-good stories has turned out like this.

  • Barry

    I might actually respect the first a-hole troll who gets a jersey with Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone as the player name on the back.

    I mean, they’d still be an a-hole troll, but A for effort.

  • Barry

    Sigh. I’m just sad. I know we’re supposed to be shocked or outraged (one way or the other) … but I’m just sad. Regardless of his level of guilt or innocence.

    I want to give Clutch a hug.

    • King Dong

      Not an unfair claim. He very well could have been walking down the street, slipped on a banana peel, hit his head on the sidewalk, and as he lay there unconscious, some ne’er-do-well dragged him into a vat of PEDs.

  • Charlotte

    Honestly, ‘Scrappy journeyman lies, cheats and steals to help the Jays to a dream season, gets nabbed but we still secretly love him’ is way more satisfying to me than ‘Scrappy journeyman gets really lucky on balls in play for a few months, follows it up with a disappointing season of sadness.’ Burn out rather than fade away, right?

  • Paul22

    This is a drug only manufactured on the black market and with a detection time of 6 weeks. Its not what you want to take in a league with testing.

    However, its likely he tested positive in spring training and what he was using in the offseason where there is less testing just lasted longer in his system, perhaps due to taking larger doses than recommended (intentionally or not).

    Other possibilities are sabotage. Someone has a grudge and puts something in the drink. David Ortiz held out the possibility he could inadvertently get steroids from health drinks at a sports bar in the DR since they were so prevalent, but Chris was born in MA so he can’t use that.

    Lab error is always a possibility, but the JDA does not allow that as a defense.

    The simplest explanation is usually the one that is true if it explains all the known facts.

    The good news is this probably explains his drop off at the plate. His mind was elsewhere.

  • Steve-O

    “hundreds of vials of supplements/vitamins he took in recent months” could very well mean he took something he shouldn’t have by accident. I’ll reserve judgement for the time being. I’d recommend the same for everyone sneering down from the top of Mount Pious.

    For now, I just feel sad for the guy. This could mean the end of his career, and if it was because of carelessness or ignorance, that just makes it tragic.

    • DAKINS

      He really has no grasp on reality. He would be the best troll in history, if anyone actually paid any attention to him.

      Where does he even work now? I assume he’s a McDonald’s janitor.

  • OakvilleJays

    Colabello getting suspended makes me sad. It’s unclear to me at this time as to why he was taking so many vitamins etc? Is that normal?

    Don’t players have to check with the team’s doctor’s about any medication or vitamins they are taking?