NMLNB: Suspensions Not Tied to Steriods

J. J. Davis

The Nationals' Minor League Notebook: Two in the Nats' organization get suspended--one for a record 105 games--in cases involving banned substances, although steriod use was not alleged. On the field, J. J. Davis helps New Orleans stay hot on the road and Dee Haynes is an unconventional hero for the Senators.

Ramon Castro and Josh Labandeira became the first players in the Nationals' organization to be suspended for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Labandeira, a shortstop in AAA New Orleans, received the standard 15-game penalty, while Castro, who played shortstop in AA Harrisburg, will sit for a record 105 games.

Baseball officials said that Castro's penalty was so harsh because he was guilty of multiple violations, including trafficking in banned substances.

According to other sources, the charges against the two players did not involve steroids but instead they centered on amphetamines, including the banned ephredra.

Castro, who was batting .285 in 40 games with the Senators, was not available for comment. Labandeira spoke to the Harrisburg Patriot-News and, unlike other players who have been suspended, he owned up to the accusations.
It was expected. I knew something was going to happen. If you break the rules, you have to be ready for the consequences. It's unfortunate.
Neither player is considered to be a top prospect in the organization. Labandeira, 25, was already on the DL with an oblique injury, and has never played much above the AA level, except for a seven-game September stint with the Expos last year. Castro, 26, is a career minor leaguer signed by the Nationals over the offseason.

Castro's and Labandeira's teams both won on Monday. The Zephyrs' J. J. Davis went 3 for 4 including a two-run homer to lead New Orleans past Round Rock. Craig Kuzmic followed Davis' blast with a solo shot of his own as the Zephyrs won 6-4.

The win in Texas moved the Zephyrs' road record to 21-20, among the best in the Pacific Coast League. However, they are last in the American South division of the PCL because, unlike the parent club in Washington, they can't win at home. Just three of the 16 teams in the PCL are under .500 at home and New Orleans is one of them with a 16-24 at Zephyr Field.

Dee Haynes scored the tying run and then drove in the winning run in AA Harrisburg's 8-7 win over Trenton. Both of these events occurred in unusual fashion. With the Senators trailing 7-6, Haynes got a one-out single off of Trenton reliever Ben Julianel. Then Julianel uncorked three wild pitches, allowing Haynes to travel around the basepaths unaided by any of his teammates.

In the bottom of the ninth with the score still tied, Haynes took one for the team, getting hit by an Eduardo Sierra pitch with the bases loaded, giving the Senators the 8-7 win.

Dan Dement hit a homer for Harrisburg, raising his average to .441 in nine games since he was sent down from New Orleans.

Jose Vidro went 0-3 in his second rehab appearance in A Potomac. That left the heavy lifting in the Nationals' 7-1 win over Kinston to 21 year-old center fielder Frank Diaz. He went 3-5 with two doubles, a home run, and three RBI's. Devin Perrin, a 6-7 righthander, threw seven innings of two-hit shutout ball.

Savannah fell to Hickory 7-3 on Friday, falling to 2-3 in the second half of the South Atlantic League season. The Sand Gnats are having a tough go of things offensively this season. Among the regulars their leading hitter is Devin Ivany and he's hitting just .271. They've scored 338 runs, ranking 13th in the 16-team Sally League.

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