Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon, the National League’s reigning batting champion, has been suspended 80 games after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
The suspension is effective immediately.
An email with the news was sent out at 1:17 a.m. Friday by the commissioner’s office — not long after the Marlins completed a four-game sweep of the Dodgers with a 5-3 win Thursday night.
Gordon apologized to teammates and fans in a written statement released Friday morning, but said he did not “knowingly” use performance-enhancing drugs.
“Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances,” Gordon said in the statement. “The hardest part about this is feeling that I have let down my teammates, the organization and the fans. I have been careful to avoid products that could contain something banned by MLB and the 20+ tests that I have taken and passed throughout my career prove this. I made a mistake and I accept the consequences.”
Sources said Gordon tested positive during spring training in March and decided to drop his appeal before his scheduled hearing Saturday.
“We announced [the suspension] when we were officially notified,” league spokesman Pat Courtney said.
Gordon is the first Marlin to be suspended under the league’s drug rules.
“Dee Gordon is a very important part of our team and we all love him and support him,” Marlins president David Samson said. “That said, I do not like or condone what he did. He is an important member of this organization and will be for many years to come. It is a huge, huge disappointment to the kids, to our fans, to his teammates and to everyone in our organization who works hard every day to put a product on the field that all Miamians can be proud of.”
The league statement said Gordon, who signed a five-year, $50 million extension in January, tested positive “for exogenous Testosterone and Clostebol, performance-enhancing substances, in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.”
Instead of a celebration of the team’s first-ever sweep of the Dodgers in Los Angeles, the Marlins clubhouse was quiet as Gordon’s teammates cleared out their lockers as they prepared to leave for Milwaukee.
“I love Dee and we support him,” third baseman Martin Prado said. “I really have nothing else to say. We had a great series and we played good baseball, the whole team. We have to continue to do that. We have a game [Friday] and we’re going to play good baseball against a pretty good team and we want to keep that streak going.”
Gordon’s suspension would keep him out until after the All-Star break. His earliest possible return would be July 29, when the Marlins are set to play host to the Cardinals. But he would not be permitted to play in the postseason if the Marlins earn a playoff spot.
“We expect him to be back 80 games from now, and he will be welcomed back to this organization,” Samson said. “We are positive that in the interim period we expect him and are positive he will do whatever is necessary to make it up to his teammates, to our fans and to this organization.”
Samson said the team was alerted earlier in the day.
“The Marlins completely support the Major League Baseball Drug Prevention Program in every way,” Samson said. “That said, it is a huge disappointment and a huge loss for our team.”
The Marlins’ leadoff hitter was batting .266 with six stolen bases this season.
Gordon, who turned 28 last week, is coming off a season in which he won the National League batting title (.333 batting average), his first Gold Glove and led the majors in hits (205) and stolen bases (58).
“These guys love Dee and I feel like he’s one of my kids,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who coached Gordon during his five-year stint managing the Dodgers. “I love him and we’re going to move forward. We’re definitely shocked and surprised. But you love your kids and that’s Dee for me. I’ll help him through this process any way I can.”
Gordon became the first National League player to win a batting title and lead the league in stolen bases since Jackie Robinson with the Dodgers in 1949. He was voted in as a starter to last year’s All-Star Game but couldn’t play because of a thumb injury that forced him to miss 17 games.
“I need to continue to stay consistent and win ballgames,” Gordon said at the time he signed his contract extension in January. “Last season was a pretty amazing accomplishment, but I have to focus and keep working hard.”