Major League Baseball announced that Orioles minor league pitcher Matt Harvey has been suspended 60 games for “participating in the distribution of a prohibited Drug of Abuse in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.” The suspension retroactively begins on April 29, meaning Harvey will first be eligible to return in late June. He is not on the O’s 40-man roster.
Harvey was one of multiple players called to testify in the trial of former Angels communications director Eric Kay, who was eventually convicted by a Fort Worth jury of distributing fentanyl that resulted in the death of former pitcher Tyler Skaggs. A series of players admitted on the witness stand they’d been provided opiates by Kay, but Harvey testified he’d also provided Skaggs with Percocet pills. Harvey had been granted immunity from criminal prosecution.
Today’s suspension is for that admission he’d given Skaggs a controlled substance, explaining why none of the other players who testified have been suspended. T.J. Quinn of ESPN reported in February that Harvey was facing a possible 60-90 day ban for drug distribution, and the league has indeed levied punishment.
Harvey was a free agent at the time of the trial. The Orioles re-signed him to a minor league deal in April, but he has yet to report to an affiliate after missing Spring Training. Baltimore was obviously aware of the possibility of a suspension at the time they signed him.
Orioles general manager Mike Elias told reporters today the club “(supports) all aspects of MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and their ruling in this particular case. … I am glad that Matt now has the opportunity to put this part of his past behind him and pursue another shot with our organization after serving his suspension” (via Rich Dubroff of Baltimore Baseball).