New York Mets closer Jenrry Mejia has been suspended for 80 games without pay after testing positive for banned substance stanozolol, according to Major League Baseball.
Mejia had been set to close out Monday's 3-1 win over the Nationals in Washington, but instead was taken to the clubhouse with the team's trainer for evaluation because of soreness in his pitching elbow.
I've worked way too hard to come back and get to where I am, so I'd never knowingly put anything in my body that I thought could hold me out further
He underwent an x-ray and MRI which revealed inflammation, but no tears, and he was expected to miss at least 10 days.
The 25-year-old right hander will not be able to play again until at least July and would be ineligible for the playoffs if the team make the post-season, the Mets said.
"I know rules are the rules and I will accept my punishment, but I can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system," Mejia said in a statement issued by the players union.
"I have been through a lot in my young career and missed time due to injury.
"I've worked way too hard to come back and get to where I am, so I'd never knowingly put anything in my body that I thought could hold me out further."
Not the first
The 25-year-old reliever finished last season with a 6-6 record and 3.65 earned run average in 63 appearances, which included 28 saves.
Mejia is the third pitcher from the Dominican Republic to be slapped with an 80-game ban after testing positive for the anabolic steroid Stanozolol.
Minnesota Twins pitcher Ervin Santana and Atlanta Braves pitcher Arodys Vizcaino also received half season suspensions.
"It's obviously disappointing," Mets captain and third baseman David Wright said. "Not only do you cost yourself 80 games and don't get paid, but you're hurting everyone in here. You're letting down your teammates.
"And that probably means just as much, if not more, than hurting yourself."