July 19, 2024

Orelvis Martinez suspended 80 games for violating MLB performance-enhancing drug policy

Toronto Blue Jays prospect Orelvis Martinez, who made his big-league debut Friday, has been suspended 80 games for violating MLB’s performance-enhancing drug policy, the league announced Sunday. Martinez tested positive for Clomiphene, a performance-enhancing substance. The suspension is effective immediately.

“The Blue Jays fully support Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, and strongly believe in keeping the game on a level playing field,” said Blue Jays EVP and general manager Ross Atkins in a statement. “We were both surprised and disappointed to learn of Orelvis Martinez’s suspension. We will do everything in our power to ensure Orelvis has learned from this mistake.”

Martinez said that during the offseason, he and his girlfriend visited a fertility clinic in the Dominican Republic where he was prescribed a medication called Rejun 50, which contains the banned substance Clomiphene. Martinez said it was a “mistake” to not disclose this to the Blue Jays or the MLBPA.

“I took full responsibility for my actions and accepted my suspension,” Martinez said in a statement. “I want to apologize to my teammates in both Buffalo and Toronto, the Blue Jays organization, and most importantly, the fans who have supported me during my career.”

The Blue Jays became aware of Martinez’s situation on Saturday after he approached Atkins and Blue Jays manager John Schneider, according to the GM. During his suspension, Martinez will be at a team training facility where he will “continue his focus on how he can improve as a player and a teammate,” Atkins said.

“Whole-heartedly believe in education and feel like there’s a lot of it in place, so ensuring that all of that has been downloaded by Orelvis is a small piece of the equation,” the GM said on Sunday. “I think this actual experience is the true learning for him. I think it’s continuing to focus on ways that he can continue to improve as a human, as a player and as a teammate and there are lots of opportunities for that throughout our resources and instruction.”

In the wake of his suspension, Martinez has been placed on the restricted list and the Blue Jays recalled OF Steward Berroa from Triple-A Buffalo.

Martinez is the Blue Jays’ No. 2 prospect and one of the best young bats in their system. He was called up when Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette went to the IL with a right calf strain. His suspension is the latest development in what continues to be a disastrous season for the Blue Jays.

Toronto came into the season expecting to be a playoff contender in the competitive American League East. Instead, the Blue Jays are 35-41, sit last in the division and are six games back of a wild-card spot.

The club has underperformed in multiple areas, but most notably on offense. The Blue Jays rank near the bottom of MLB in several offensive categories, including 27th in runs scored and 29th in team home runs.

Recently, the Blue Jays have begun calling up some of their prospects from the minors to ignite the lineup, including Martinez.

The 22-year-old infielder was the best young bat in the team’s farm system with a .867 OPS and 16 home runs in 63 games with the Buffalo Bisons. Given how the Blue Jays have struggled to hit the ball out of the park this season, Martinez’s potential to hit for power was seen as something that could benefit the Blue Jays. Even if Martinez’s initial stint in the majors was likely to be short-lived and over when Bichette returned from the IL, there was reason to believe he could re-join the club later in the season, especially if the club did decide to trade away some veterans at the deadline — a reality that is seeming increasingly likely as the team falls out of the playoff race.

Now, Martinez’s 80-game suspension will take him till nearly the end of the 2024 season and it will be added to the list of things that have made this Blue Jays season a profoundly disappointing one.

(Photo: Frank Jansky /Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)