Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase has found the start to his Indians career delayed even further as the injured reliever has been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball for a positive test in violation of the league’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
The key returning piece of the offseason trade between Cleveland and Texas that centered around Corey Kluber had already landed on the shelf during spring training with an oblique injury that was going to postpone the start of his Indians career. That situation, in a season already abbreviated by the nation’s response to the coronavirus, worsened on Friday when MLB announced Clase’s positive test for the banned Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance.
The Indians’ organization released a statement at the time of the Clase suspension.
“We were disappointed to learn of today’s suspension of Emmanuel Clase for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. We fully support Major League Baseball’s policy and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing drugs from our game. We have been in contact with Emmanuel, and we will welcome him back after the discipline has been served. Per the protocol outlined by Major League Baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, we will not comment further on the circumstances surrounding this announcement.”
With a 162-game schedule for the 2020 season unlikely given more than a month of the season already cancelled and the need for players to work through a shortened second spring training, Clase may not figure into the Indians’ season at all. He was already expected to miss a period of eight to twelve weeks after suffering a moderate tear of the teres major muscle in his back in February, but now he will remain sidelined for 80 games, which could be a significant chunk of whatever revised schedule baseball operates under in the complicated COVID-19 landscape that it is trying to work within.
Clase and outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. were acquired by the Indians on December 15 when the club sent its starting pitcher Kluber and cash considerations to the Texas Rangers in a move that surprised some as a light return for a two-time Cy Young winner. The 22-year-old Dominican Clase reached the Majors for the first time last season with the Rangers, posting a 2-3 record in 21 games (including one start) after being called up in early August, contributing a 2.31 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP with 21 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings.
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