Buffalo Bisons center fielder Darnell McDonald has tested positive for steroid use and is facing a 15-game suspension under Major League Baseball's Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
McDonald, however, has appealed the positive test and will remain on the Bisons' active roster pending results of that appeal. He was not in the Herd's lineup Friday as Buffalo's scheduled game against the Pawtucket Red Sox in Dunn Tire Park was rained out.
"Until the appeal process is final, I have no comment," McDonald said.
Bisons officials also had no comment since McDonald's case is pending. Nine minor-leaguers Friday were given 15-game bans, the penalty for a first offense.
The most prominent names were Richmond Braves first baseman James Jurries, tied for second in the International League with five home runs and tied for fourth in RBIs with 13; former New York Mets pitcher Grant Roberts, who was released in spring training from the Norfolk Tides' roster; and second baseman Eider Torres of Cleveland's Double-A affiliate in Akron, Ohio.
McDonald, 26, joined the Bisons as a free agent signee in the offseason. He had spent the first seven years of his career in the Baltimore organization (the last four mostly in Triple-A between Rochester and Ottawa) and was the Orioles' first-round choice in the 1997 draft.
Three of the nine players suspended Friday were from the Baltimore chain, including Ottawa Lynx pitcher Richard Salazar. Major League Baseball said the latest suspensions resulted from 251 tests taken at Florida spring training camps. There were 37 players suspended earlier this month from over 900 tests done in Arizona spring camps.
McDonald is batting .267 for the Bisons this year in nine games with no home runs or RBIs. His first-pitch, leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth Thursday started Buffalo's two-run rally that produced a 4-3 win over Rochester and completed a doubleheader sweep.
Because of his appeal, McDonald was not named in MLB's official release. But John Farrell, Cleveland's director of player development, acknowledged during a conference call with Indians beat writers that the team had another minor-leaguer who produced a positive test. The Indians would not comment further, but several sources close to the organization confirmed McDonald was the player.
Farrell admitted it was disappointing that the Indians had two players return positive tests, especially since the club is stringent with education about the dangers of steroid use. Torres, 22, was batting .273 with a home run and eight RBIs in 14 games this season. He was fourth in batting in the Carolina League last year with a .302 average at Class A Kinston (N.C.).
"Education starts in (fall) Instructional League, through our Winter Development Program, into spring training and through the season with their trainers and strength coaches," Farrell said. "We put the emphasis on the health risks a player is taking down the road."
Without directly naming McDonald, Farrell said the appeal process will likely take 10-14 days based on turnaround time from lab work after another test is administered.
"The Cleveland Indians have implemented a comprehensive educational and nutritional program for the entire organization, specifically targeting the long-term effects and ramifications of using performance-enhancing drugs," Tribe Executive Vice President/General Manager Mark Shapiro said in a statement released by the team. "We will continue our efforts diligently through programs within the Instructional League, Winter Development Program, spring training and throughout the baseball season. We continue to strongly support the policies set forth by Major League Baseball."
Richmond's Jurries burned the Bisons for a pair of home runs during the teams' series here earlier this month. One was a two-run shot off closer Jake Robbins in the top of the seventh inning that tied the season opener April 8. Richmond posted a 5-4 win in that game as the next batter, Andy Marte, also took Robbins deep.