CLEVELAND (AP) — Whenever the Cleveland Indians finally get to start their season they won’t have reliever Emmanuel Clase.
The hard-throwing right-hander was suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball on Friday for testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing drug.
Clase was the biggest acquisition by Cleveland in the big offseason trade that sent two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers. The commissioner’s office said the 22-year-old Clase tested positive for Boldenone, an anabolic steroid.
Clase was expected to have a major role at the back end of the Indians’ bullpen this season.
His suspension will not begin until the start of the 2020 regular season, which has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If the season doesn’t cover 80 games, MLB and the players’ association are still working out if any carry over will apply for 2021.
The regular season was scheduled to open March 26.
The Indians said they were “disappointed” by Clase’s suspension.
“We fully support Major League Baseball’s policy and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing drugs from our game,” the team said in a statement. “We have been in contact with Emmanuel, and we will welcome him back after the discipline has been served. ”
The Indians sent Kluber, the ace of their staff for the past five years, to Texas in December for outfielder Delino DeShields and Clase, whose fastball has been clocked at over 100 mph. Clase strained a shoulder muscle in spring training and didn’t appear in an exhibition game before the virus outbreak shut baseball down.
Clase returned to the Dominican Republic once the season was put on hold.
He made his debut with the Rangers in August. Clase appeared in 21 games, going 2-3 with a 2.31 ERA. He struck out 21 in 23 1-3 innings.