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Blue Jays rookie infielder Orelvis Martinez suspended 80 games for doping violation

Toronto Blue Jays' Orelvis Martines walks back to the dugout after striking out during the third inning of the team's baseball game against the Cleveland Guardians, Friday, June 21, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) Toronto Blue Jays' Orelvis Martines walks back to the dugout after striking out during the third inning of the team's baseball game against the Cleveland Guardians, Friday, June 21, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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Toronto Blue Jays infielder Orelvis Martinez's rookie season is on hold almost as soon as it began.

Major League Baseball suspended Martinez for 80 games effective immediately after he tested positive for Clomiphene, a performance-enhancing drug. The ban comes two days after Martinez made his highly anticipated MLB debut and means he's only eligible to return with six games left in the regular season.

"We were both surprised and disappointed to learn of Orelvis Martinez’s suspension," Toronto general manager Ross Atkins said in a statement. "We will do everything in our power to ensure Orelvis has learned from this mistake.

"Orelvis has our support, and we know he will get through this."

The 22-year-old Martinez had one hit in three plate appearances in his Blue Jays debut on Friday in a 7-1 loss to the Cleveland Guardians. Outfielder Steward Berroa was selected to Toronto's major league roster on Sunday morning to replace Martinez, who was officially placed on the team's restricted list before the series finale in Cleveland.

Martinez was widely considered one of the top 100 prospects in baseball, with Baseball America ranking him No. 90, MLB ranking him No. 89, and Baseball Prospectus rating him No. 95 heading into this season.

He was hitting .260 with a .343 on-base percentage, with 16 home runs and 46 runs batted in 63 games for the triple-A Buffalo Bisons this season.

Martinez said in a statement Sunday that he unknowingly took the banned substance as he and his girlfriend tried to address fertility issues after visiting a doctor in his native Dominican Republic.

"We wanted to keep this matter private, even within our family, and trusted the doctor who assured us this treatment did not include performance enhancing drugs," he said. "Therefore, I made the mistake of not disclosing this to my team or the MLBPA.

"With that said, I took full responsibility for my actions and accepted my suspension."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2024.

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