|A failed drug test has ended Colon's season. (Getty Images)|
Athletics starting pitcher Bartolo Colon has been suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for a failed drug test, MLB announced Wednesday afternoon. The news was first reported by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Colon's issue was heightened levels of testosterone. The suspension begins immediately and will be served without pay.
Considering the A's have less than 50 games left this season, Colon is done for 2012. If the A's make the postseason, Colon will be suspended for the first 10 games there, too.
"The Oakland Athletics are disappointed to learn of today's suspension of pitcher Bartolo Colon," the club said in a statement. "The organization fully supports Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing substances from our game. Per the Basic Agreement, the A's will have no further comment."
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Colon, 39, has been an integral component of the starting rotation for the surprising A's, which entered Wednesday just a half-game out in the AL wild-card race and five games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West.
"It's a shock," reliever Grant Balfour said (Associated Press). "He's a guy that we're definitely relying on right now. I guess you could say it's bad timing any time, but especially now."
Colon is 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 91 strikeouts in 152 1/3 innings this season. He resurrected his career last season with the Yankees after undergoing a controversial stem-cell procedure. He then signed a one-year, $2 million contract with Oakland in the offseason.
“I apologize to the fans, to my teammates and to the Oakland A's," Colon said in a statement. "I accept responsibility for my actions and I will serve my suspension as required by the Joint Drug Program.”
The A's have some decent internal options to replace Colon in the rotation. A.J. Griffin (3-0, 2.42 ERA in eight starts) is scheduled to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Wednesday. Dan Straily (1-0, 3.18 in three starts) was sent back to the minors Tuesday and is also a solid option, though he can't be brought back up until he's been in the minor leagues for 10 days. Also, Brett Anderson looked great in his return from Tommy John surgery Tuesday.
So while this is a blow to the A's, it's not a death blow.
Colon becomes the fifth major leaguer nailed by the drug program this season. The first four were Giants reliever Guillermo Mota, Phillies second baseman Freddy Galvis, former Cubs/Red Sox outfielder Marlon Byrd and Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera.