Major League Baseball announced Friday that it suspended A’s right-hander Frankie Montas (9-2, 2.31 ERA) for 80 games after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug called Ostarine.
In a statement released through the MLB Players Association, Montas said he will not protest the suspension, though the A’s have just 86 games remaining of the 2019 season and Montas will also be ineligible for post-season play as a result of the violation.
Montas said he did not deliberately consume the banned substance but nevertheless accepts and respects the league’s drug policy. He said:
“I never intended to take any prohibited substance, I unfortunately and unknowingly ingested a contaminated supplement that I had purchased over-the-counter at a nutrition store here in the United States.”
According to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, Ostarine is not approved for human consumption in the U.S. or anywhere else, but the incidence of illegal use by athletes has risen in recent years, perhaps because the substance is known to affect male hormones like testosterone less than some other performance enhancers.
A’s manager Bob Melvin said Montas apologized to his teammates Friday:
“I think it was a shock to everybody today. We met as a team and Frankie spoke and was very remorseful and he’s going to accept what he has to deal with and he feels bad about it.”
Montas has been worth 2.2 WAR in 2019, third-most on the team, and the most valuable of any A’s pitcher. He’s posted a 2.86 FIP, averaging 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings and a 4.62 strikeout to walk ratio.
The 22-year-old Dominican-born righty apologized to A’s fans, teammates and his family for violating the league’s rules, even if it was accidentally, and Melvin said now Oakland just needs to refocus their energy on the task at hand. Melvin said:
“I think everybody took a little time to regroup and think more about Frankie and what he’s going through and what he has to deal with, then you move on to the game as it comes. This will be the first time this has happened and my guess is it’ll be the last time.”
Righty Tanner Anderson (0-1, 3.27 ERA) is scheduled to throw in game two of the four-game set with the Rays Friday against Tampa Bay opener Andrew Kittredge (0-0, 5.40 ERA). First pitch at Oakland Coliseum is scheduled for 7:07 p.m.
A’s bench coach Ryan Christenson filled in for Melvin in Thursday’s series-opener with the Rays so that Oakland’s manager could undergo a procedure to treat ongoing discomfort. Melvin said:
“I had some shots in my neck yesterday and the only reason I wasn’t here is because I had anesthesia and it precluded me from coming. It’s not like I just had an appointment and didn’t show up to the game, I physically was not able to.”
The A’s took a 5-4 walkoff victory with Christenson at the helm in what will be Montas’ last start until September at the earliest.