ATLANTA — New York Mets manager Terry Collins was shocked to learn Saturday that relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia had tested positive for the performance-enhancing substance Stanozolol.
Major League Baseball has suspended Mejia for 80 games.
“We’re very disappointed, extremely disappointed,” Collins said. “We came into this whole thing in spring training with huge expectations and the back end of our bullpen being very, very strong, so we’re all shocked and disappointed.”
This is the fourth penalty for a positive Stanozolol test reported by MLB in less than three weeks, following Minnesota pitcher Ervin Santana, Seattle pitcher David Rollins and Atlanta pitcher Arodys Vizcaino.
Mejia began the season as New York’s closer, but he was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with posterior elbow inflammation, without having pitched in a game.
The 25-year-old Mejia released a statement through the players’ union saying he knows the rules and accepts his punishment, but “can honestly say I have no idea how a banned substance ended up in my system.”
Mejia apologized to the organization, his teammates, fans and family while also maintaining his innocence.
“I have been through a lot in my young career and missed time due to injury,” Mejia said. “I have worked way too hard to come back and get to where I am, so I would never knowingly put anything in my body that I thought could hold me out further.”
Collins added that he and the Mets support MLB’s policy toward eliminating performance enhancing substances from the sport.
“We stand by the rules that Major League Baseball has put down,” he said. “We’ll have to regroup and get through the next 80 games with somebody else.”
Mejia began 2014 as a starter but moved to the closer role about six weeks after Bobby Parnell tore an elbow ligament in the first game of the season. The right-hander from the Dominican Republic had 28 saves, 18 after the All-Star break to tie for second-most in the NL.
“I’m going to be honest — I love this kid,” Collins said. “We challenged this guy last year and he stepped up for us and did a great job for us. This is a big disappointment.”
Parnell is expected to return next month.
“The one thing we aren’t going to do — we aren’t going to rush him back,” Collins said of Parnell. “I just think it’s unfair.”
Jeurys Familia is the team’s closer for now.
“The guys who are here are going to have to pick it up and get the job done,” Collins said.