Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies' all-star catcher and most productive hitter in 2012, was suspended for 25 games Tuesday by Major League Baseball for a violation of its performance-enhancing drug policy.
According to two league sources, Ruiz tested positive for Adderall, an amphetamine commonly used to control attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adderall is classified as a banned stimulant - not a steroid - under MLB's policy. The suspension was triggered by Ruiz's second positive test for the stimulant.
The Phillies will be without Ruiz until April 28, when he can make his season debut in New York against the Mets. Ruiz will be allowed to fully participate during spring training and could spend April playing in extended spring games. He will forfeit roughly $750,000 in salary during the suspension.
"I am sincerely regretful for my mistake in taking a prohibited stimulant," Ruiz said in a statement. "I apologize to my teammates, the Phillies organization and the Philadelphia fans. I will serve the imposed 25-game suspension to begin the season and I look forward to returning to the field and working toward bringing a championship back to Philadelphia in 2013."
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. also issued a statement.
"The Phillies fully support Major League Baseball's drug program," he said. "We are disappointed by the news of this violation of the program. We will support Carlos in an appropriate manner and move forward to achieve our goal to play championship-caliber baseball in 2013."
Amaro reiterated his disappointment in a telephone interview but said he did not think Ruiz's suspension would prevent future negotiations on a contract extension. Ruiz can be a free agent after next season.
"Yeah, I'm disappointed," Amaro said. "I think people make mistakes. This was a mistake and we'll move forward."
The positive test only further convolutes an offseason in which the Phillies are seeking numerous offensive upgrades. Now they must consider how to compensate for a month without Ruiz. Amaro said he did not anticipate making a significant move to replace Ruiz because of the relatively short-term nature of the suspension.
"We'll figure it out internally probably," Amaro said. "We may look to add some catching pieces . . . but we have some options."
Amaro said the Phillies would not look to add a frontline catcher.
"We already have one in Carlos Ruiz," he said.
Ruiz, who turns 34 in January, set career highs in nearly every offensive category during a tremendous 2012 season. He hit 16 home runs in 114 games, smashing his previous high of nine homers. He was named to his first all-star team.
The Phillies last month exercised a $5 million option for 2013 on Ruiz, and both sides were expected to seek a long-term extension this winter. His suspension could alter that strategy or at least the timing of such negotiations. Initially, Amaro said he had not given much thought about how this would impact negotiations for a contract extension, but he later added that it probably would not prevent such talks from taking place.
Erik Kratz stands to gain the most playing time and is likely to be the Phillies' opening-day catcher with 61 career major-league games to his name. The Phillies recently signed Humberto Quintero to a minor-league deal. The 33-year-old Quintero played in 43 games with Kansas City last season and probably has the inside track at the second catcher's job.
Young prospects Sebastian Valle and Tommy Joseph are probably ticketed for triple A and Cameron Rupp for double A.
The Phillies also re-signed journeyman Steve Lerud, who saw action in three games, to a minor-league deal. None of the prospects are viewed as major-league ready, but the Phillies could make an exception for a month.
Under MLB's program, Ruiz was subject to six unannounced follow-up tests over the 12 months after the initial violation, in addition to the standard random testing. A first positive test for a stimulant, unlike steroids, does not result in suspension. Instead, the increased testing is implemented. Ruiz would be suspended for 80 games if a third positive test emerges.
Athletes have used Adderall as an energy boost. The drug has been blamed for a recent rash of NFL suspensions.
If an MLB-certified clinician diagnoses Ruiz with ADHD and prescribes him Adderall, Ruiz can apply for a therapeutic use exemption with MLB's independent program administrator. In 2011, Major League Baseball granted 105 exemptions - approximately 9 percent of all players - for ADHD. That allowed those players to safely take Adderall and Ritalin. Such exemptions are generally more difficult to obtain after a positive test.
Two Phillies on the 40-man roster, Kevin Frandsen and Zach Collier, were suspended in the minors for using Ritalin and Adderall, respectively. Both have since sought exemptions for ADHD.
Ruiz is the fourth Phillies player on their 40-man roster to have been suspended by MLB for drug violations. In addition to Frandsen and Collier, Freddy Galvis was suspended for 50 games in June for Clostebol, an anabolic steroid.
Here are Ruiz' hitting numbers over his career. Notice how improved he was from 2010 through last season in most categories.
Year Games AB Runs Hits HRs RBIs Avg.
2006 27 69 5 18 3 10 .261
2007 115 374 42 97 6 54 .259
2008 117 320 47 70 4 31 .219
2009 107 322 32 82 9 43 .255
2010 121 371 43 112 8 53 .302
2011 132 410 49 116 6 40 .283
2012 114 372 56 121 16 68 .325