ST. PETERSBURG -- Devil Rays reliever Juan Salas received a 50-game suspension Monday after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance in violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
The Rays released the following statement about the situation:
"The Tampa Bay Devil Rays fully support Major League Baseball's drug testing policy. We will do all we can to help Juan get his career headed back on a positive course."
Salas, 28, is 1-1 with a 3.95 ERA in 15 games in 2007; the suspension takes effect Tuesday.
Losing Salas is a blow to the Rays' bullpen. The hard-throwing right-hander appeared to be coming on as a force in the bullpen. His departure means the Rays will have two new faces in the visiting clubhouse Tuesday in Baltimore; in addition to Salas' departure, Ruddy Lugo was optioned to Triple-A Durham, and his replacement has not yet been announced.
The most likely candidates to fill the two spots are right-handers Chad Orvella and Tim Corcoran.
Salas was signed as a Minor League free agent by the Rays on July 8, 1998. He spent his first six professional seasons as a third baseman in the Rays' system. After not producing much power (28 home runs in more than 2,000 at-bats), Salas was converted into a pitcher in 2005. In 2006, he reached the Major Leagues with the Rays, and was named MiLB.com Reliever of the Year.
Former Mets pitcher Guillermo Mota became the first Major League player to be suspended for 50 games, under the league's revamped drug program, after testing positive for the use of performance-enhancing drugs in November.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.