On Wednesday, Major League Baseball announced that Boston Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright has received an 80-game suspension for use of a performance-enhancing substance. Wright was tested positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide 2 (GHRP-2), a violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
The Red Sox released the following statement:
"The Boston Red Sox fully support Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing substances from the game. While we are disappointed by the news of this violation, we will look to provide the appropriate support to Steven at this time. Going forward, the club will not comment further on the matter."
Wright will be placed on the restricted list -- freeing a 40-man roster spot for the Red Sox -- and miss the first half of the season. Wright will also be ineligible to participate in the 2019 postseason.
Wright will not be eligible to receive his $1.375 million salary while suspended, nor will he be allowed on the postseason roster, if the Red Sox qualify.
In a statement, Wright said that he did not knowingly take a performance-enhancing drug:
"I was notified by MLB that I failed a test under the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program during this past off-season. Although I do not dispute the validity of the test, I was shocked as I have never intentionally ingested anything for performance-enhancing purposes. I have fully cooperated with MLB and will continue to try and identify the source of the result."
The 34-year-old knuckleballer underwent arthroscopic and debridement surgery -- the same invasive knee surgery as-- this past offseason, on his left knee. He's missed large portions of the past two seasons due to the left knee injuries. In 2018, Wright made 20 appearances with a 2.68 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings. Wright, a six-year MLB veteran, was an American League All-Star in 2016.
This is the second straight season in which Wright will be suspended by MLB. In December of 2017, Wright was arrested for domestic abuse following an incident with his wife at their Tennessee home. He served a 15-game suspension for violation of the league's domestic violence policy during the 2018 season.
Wright found out that he had failed the test this offseason and appealed the suspension, but did not tell the Red Sox until last week. The rejection of his appeal became official last night.
The Boston Herald's Jason Mastrodonato raises a valid point here:
Big question: had Red Sox known about Wright’s failed drug test when he found out in the offseason, would they have been more aggressive in pursuit of bullpen help?— Jason Mastrodonato (@JMastrodonato) March 6, 2019
The Red Sox bullpen is seriously wearing thin. The team lost Joe Kelly to the Dodgers via free agency and Red Sox President Dave Dombrowski top free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel. Right now, Boston's 2019 closer is expected to be either Matt Barnes or Ryan Brasier.