Carlos Ruiz Suspended 25 Games for Using Banned Substance

Via Todd Zolecki on Phillies.com:

Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz has been suspended 25 games for using an amphetamine. The suspension begins at the beginning of the 2013 season, which means Ruiz is unable to play until April 28 against the Mets at Citi Field.

The amphetamine in question is Adderall, a drug commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Amphetamines affect athletes differently than drugs such as steroids and growth hormone: instead of promoting muscle gain, amphetamines provide a burst of energy. Its effect varies from person to person, but Ruiz is one of many baseball players — including Willie MaysMike Schmidt, and Barry Bonds – to have used them. Amphetamines were officially banned in Major League Baseball in 2006.

As a result of Ruiz’s 25-game suspension, the Phillies will be without their star catcher until April 28. GM Ruben Amaro said to reporters that the initial thought is to replace Ruiz internally, much like they did during the 2012 season when Ruiz missed time due to plantar fasciitis. This likely means Erik Kratz, the presumptive back-up to Ruiz, opens up the season as the starting catcher. Humberto Quintero, a veteran catcher recently signed to a Minor League deal, is the favorite for the back-up role but the Phillies will no doubt leave that open for competition.

For many, Ruiz’s failed drug test puts into question not only his great 2012 season in which he set many career highs (H, R, 2B, HR, RBI, AVG, SLG, OPS), but the entire progression of his career, from a light-hitting game-caller in 2007-08 to the backbone of the Phillies’ offense between 2010-12.  In 114 games, Ruiz was the third-most valuable catcher in baseball in 2012 according to both FanGraphs WAR (5.5) and Baseball Reference WAR (4.4).

The news of Ruiz’s suspension comes at an unfortunate time in Philadelphia sports where none of the four major teams are providing much in the way of optimism. Fortunately, Ruiz will only be gone 25 games rather than the typical 50 games for players caught using steroids for the first time. Additionally, the Phillies will have four months to decide how to approach the beginning of the season without their backstop. In the grand scheme of things, this could have been worse and the Phillies should be able to get by without him in the first month of the season.

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7 comments

  1. TomG

    November 28, 2012 08:55 AM

    This news really surprised and disappointed me.

  2. nik

    November 28, 2012 09:04 AM

    I don’t think it puts anything into question. Adderrall doesn’t add muscle or power, so Chooch’s numbers to me are legit.

  3. JM

    November 28, 2012 09:05 AM

    What kills me is that there is a way to take the Addarall legally. It has to be passed by MLB, with the typical Dr note and all, but it can be done. Why on earth would any professional not use the legal route? speaking of Ruiz though…if RAJ brings in an Upton, where does Chooch fit in? do you slide Utley to the 2 and Chooch in front of Howard and then Upton?

  4. topherstarr

    November 28, 2012 09:46 AM

    Ruben said last night that privacy laws prevent the club from knowing what drug specifically showed up in the test. The team only finds out that he tested positive for a stimulant, and only after he fails the second test and is suspended. It’s up to Carlos (and his “people” for lack of a better term) to decide how specific he wants to be about releasing details about the drug he tested positive for.

    Since the rules would allow him to take Adderall if he had the proper clearance, as Cliff Lee and others already do, I can’t help but wonder if Carlos and his advisers decided to release the name of a drug people are more comfortable and familiar with, even if that wasn’t the drug he actually was taking.

  5. John

    November 28, 2012 10:38 AM

    @ Nik – Stimulants are used to enhance concentration, like what Adderall is meant to be used for in kids and adults with ADHD. They are also used to prolong fatigue and improve endurance, something a catch playing 114 games might be interested in. Stimulants also improve reaction times. The unfortunate nature is that while there are 70 different types of steriods on the MLB Anti Doping list, there are also 56 stimulants that have been used to gain a competitive edge. It does taint his season at the very minimum a little because while there are MANY drugs on the stimulant side that have legitimate uses, a suspension only occurs after the second positive random drug test. Not only that but there are certain levels for each drug, 2000 ng/mL for amphetaminil, that needs to be reached for a positive. Point is, he was using something he shouldn’t have, and he knew about it before this second positive test got him suspended. Now, the Phil’s have three players that have been suspended in the last three years, I love them, but that is an interesting fact.

  6. Frank Reynolds

    November 28, 2012 10:43 PM

    Sad. I am dissappointed. I think it’s foolish to break the rules especially a second time. I honestly don’t have an issue with players using steroids, PEDs, ect. I would not be upset if they made it “legal” in sports. I don’t think sports have ever been”clean”. Someone has always tried to get an edge somehow. As Bill stated Aaron and Mays used amphetamines so I don’t see them as being any different from someone like Barry Bonds. But again I do think it was foolish of Chooch. I will not hold it against him. Still my guy.

  7. GB

    December 01, 2012 12:17 PM

    Not sure how anyone can just sweep this under the rug or give Ruiz a pass…this was the 2ND TIME he had been caught using this banned substance and there is a clearly defined process for getting an exception from MLB if legit usage is needed for any ADD or ADHD issue Ruiz has…thus its obvious this was willful breaking of the rules and/or some type of addiction issue Ruiz needs help with…hopefully he will smarten up and get help or at least stop hurting his team and employer with his actions…everyone appreciates what Ruiz has done as a Phillie, but facts are facts and one needs to face them straight up

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