CINCINNATI -- Tuesday's 50-game suspension of Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez for a violation of Major League Baseball's performance-enhancing drug policy disqualifies him for games in which he was unlikely to pitch anyway. Volquez is currently on the 60-day disabled list rehabilitating from Tommy John surgery and won't be ready to pitch until at least late-July. Since his suspension begins Wednesday, he won't miss any games on the field. The final Reds game of Volquez's 50-game penalty comes on June 13. "That's a good thing," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "He can serve his suspension while on the disabled list and when he's ready to pitch, he should be able to pitch."
Perhaps that's as it should be -- the Reds' organization, after all, didn't do anything wrong. This isn't a situation in which Volquez and the Reds are somehow circumventing the normal rules of punishment. Once a player tests positive for the use of a performance-enhancing drug, he is permitted to file an appeal, but Volquez chose not to appeal and admitted to taking prescribed medication "to treat a common medical issue and start a family." Upon a finding supporting the original test, the player must begin the 50-game suspension the next day whether he is active or not, MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said. The Reds have been without Volquez's services for nearly a year, since his last appearance on June 1. He underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on Aug. 3. Volquez, 26, is in Goodyear, Ariz., doing his rehabilitation at the Reds' Spring Training complex. Under the rules, he is still able to work out at the facility while serving his suspension. He can practice at Great American Ball Park as long as he is off of the field before the arrival of media and fans, or before batting practice begins. "He can get more work done there [in Arizona], because when we go on the road, he's still working," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We planned on him staying there until he starts his rehab assignment. The sad part is he doesn't get paid." "He can do everything he's been doing -- throwing, running, long toss and conditioning," Jocketty said. Just no games can be played by Volquez, but that's a moot point -- he likely wouldn't be ready for a Minor League rehab stint until late June at the earliest anyway. "He's still on track probably for the end of July," Jocketty said. "That's kind of what the estimate was for his time in rehab. When he's ready to pitch in a game, the suspension should be over." One television reporter suggested that Volquez was getting away with a "slap on the wrist." That is hardly the case since he still is losing nearly one-third of his 2010 salary of $445,000. Volquez will have to forfeit about $120,000 in pay. But in this case, the player loses and the Reds do not -- unless it happens again. The penalty for a second positive test is a 100-game suspension. A third positive test would be the end of his Major League career.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.