One of the three Myrtle Beach Pelicans who tested positive for a banned amphetamine, according to the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball, is expected to rejoin the team Monday, while the other two players have been released.
First baseman and outfielder Gerardo Rodriguez has been reinstated following a 50-game suspension for violating terms of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, and has to travel from his native Dominican Republic to rejoin the team.
Infielders Albaro "Yoel" Campusano of the Dominican Republic and Amadeo Zazueta of Mexico were released from the Atlanta Braves organization Friday after the completion of their 50-game suspensions.
Braves Director of Player Development Kurt Kemp said the decisions regarding the three players were based on their playing abilities and the organization's need for players at their position, with no consideration of their positive tests.
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"The releases were based on the lack of availability of roster spots at this time," Kemp said. "We filled their spots, and after signing 30 players in the draft, we didn't feel we had roster spots for those two players. It was a baseball decision. It was in no way, shape or form meant to be additionally punitive following their 50-game suspensions."
At the time of his suspension on May 21, Rodriguez led the Pelicans with eight home runs, eight doubles and 24 RBIs, though he was batting just .239 with 65 strikeouts in 163 at-bats. In 123 games last year between low-A Rome and Myrtle Beach, the 22-year-old hit 23 home runs and drove in 83 runs.
"Once he gets here we go back to work," Pelicans manager Rocket Wheeler said. "He's paid his price, he's paid his debt, it's time to put that chapter of his life behind him and let's move on. We saw what he did last year when he came up in the second half, we're hoping he can get back to that form again. He's a hard-working kid. He's always pushed himself and worked to make himself better."
Campusano, of the Dominican Republic, was batting .192 with three homers, 11 RBIs and a .293 on-base percentage in 36 games this season. Zazueta, a talented shortstop defensively from Mexico, was hitting .163 with two homers, seven RBIs and a .189 OBP in 23 games.
"Sometimes it boils down to the position. Do we have the need for that position?" Kemp said. "That worked in Gerardo's favor. We had a need for his position. We felt we had an opportunity for Gerardo but not the other two kids. But clearly in all three cases the decisions were based on baseball and roster spots; what our roster needs are at this time."
Among the amphetamines banned in major league and minor league baseball are ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which is a stimulant and decongestant that is prevalent in many cold and allergy medications, including Advil Cold & Sinus, Aleve Cold & Sinus, Zyrtec and Claritin.
Ginny Batchelder, who housed Rodriguez this season as part of a lodging program through the Pelicans booster association, said in an e-mail at the time of the suspensions that she believed the players tested positive as a result of a cold medication they took.
Kemp said the players have not been questioned about their positive tests by the Braves organization. "I never quizzed them or did anything further," Kemp said. "For the most part it was not going to change the suspension or change our decision. The determination was that it wasn't anything where being any more inquisitive we would find any information that would impact our decisions moving forward."