Major League Baseball has handed Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco an 80-game suspension without pay for testing positive for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com tweets. Polanco issued a statement in response to the ban (all of which is available here via Bollinger), saying that he “regretfully accepted” the suspension, but he “did not intentionally consume this steroid.”
“The substance that I requested from my athletic trainer in the Dominican Republic and consented to take was a combination of vitamin B12 and an iron supplement, something that is not unusual or illegal for professional athletes to take. Unfortunately, what I was given was not that supplement and I take full responsibility for what is in my body,” said Polanco, who added that he’d like to fight the punishment, but he’ll avoid doing it in the best interest of the Twins organization.
The Twins issued their own response, stating: “We were disappointed to learn of the suspension of Jorge Polanco for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. We fully support Major League Baseball’s policy and its efforts to eliminate performance enhancing substances from our game. Per the protocol outlined in the Joint Drug Program, the Minnesota Twins will not comment further on this matter.”
This is a tough late-spring development for Minnesota, a playoff hopeful that had the 24-year-old Polanco penciled in as its starting shortstop. Polanco filled that role in 2017 for the playoff-bound Twins and accounted for 1.6 fWAR across 544 plate appearances during his first full season in the majors. The switch-hitter batted .256/.313/.410 with 13 home runs and 13 stolen bases on the offensive side, and he posted minus-1 DRS and minus-4.3 UZR as a defender.
With Polanco set to miss half the season, the Twins are likely to give short to Eduardo Escobar, while Ehire Adrianza will act as his main backup and minor league signing/experienced veteran Erick Aybar could also make the team, per Bollinger. Additionally, the Twins have 22-year-old middle infielder Nick Gordon, who ranks as MLB.com’s 80th-best prospect, but it doesn’t seem they’ll turn to him yet.