ARLINGTON, Texas — Josh Sale, the Tampa Bay Rays’ first pick (17th overall) in the 2010 draft, was suspended for the third time Tuesday, this time 50 games without pay after a second positive test for a drug of abuse in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Sale received a 50-game ban in 2012 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
He also was suspended indefinitely last season for conduct detrimental to the organization after posting on Facebook that he threw quarters at a stripper. The suspension for PEDs combined with the organization’s ban caused Sale to miss the entire 2013 season.
RF Kevin Kiermaier, selected in the 31st round of the same draft, had little sympathy for Sale.
“We have the greatest opportunity of playing baseball every day for a living, and for guys to just throw it away doing stuff like this is too bad,” Kiermaier said. “But we all know what we sign up for. There are certain things we’re allowed to do, and there’s no place in this world for drugs. And for him, a third offense, if anyone feels bad for him, I don’t know, it’s just foolishness.”
In a statement released by the team, Rays minor-league director Mitch Lukevics said the organization is disappointed in Sale, that Sale will “follow the guidelines” of minor-league baseball’s drug program and that he will continue to work with the team’s Employee Assistance Program.
Kiermaier said Lukevics talks to all the minor-leaguers on the first day of spring training about this very topic.
“They do not take it lightly at all,” Kiermaier said.
This is the 16th suspension of a Rays minor-leaguer since 2012 and the third this season, following suspensions to RHP Alex Colome (PED) and RHP Steve Geltz (drug of abuse).
While still serving the organization’s suspension, Sale was invited to the prospect camp last January at Tropicana Field. He addressed his issues then and the time he spent away from baseball.
“I was able to grow up. That’s what was really needed to be worked on,” he said. “Just me as a person, doing what I could do to better myself, because nobody’s bigger than the game. The game’s bigger than everybody. Making myself a better person off the field will greater my chances to produce well on the field.”
Manager Joe Maddon said Sale has no one but himself to blame for the latest suspension.
“The system’s in place, the rules are working, he’s got to be held accountable,” Maddon said.
Faith in Balfour
Maddon brought struggling RHP Grant Balfour into Monday’s game in the ninth inning with the Rays up 7-0 because he wanted Balfour to have a low-stress inning to help build his confidence.
Balfour got the first out, then walked the next two before finishing off the Rangers.
“I think for the most part his stuff has been good,” Maddon said. “It’s just a matter of him trusting himself and believing in his abilities.”
Maddon said Balfour’s bad outing Sunday against the Cubs was the result of one poorly thrown pitch — a hanging curveball that resulted in a run-scoring triple that tied the score at 2.
“It’s more frustrating to him,” Maddon said. “We believe in him so much more than he probably believes in himself right now.”
Balfour pitched a scoreless 12th and 13th inning during Tuesday’s 14-inning loss.
The Rays announced that Saturday’s game at Tropicana Field against the Yankees is sold out and only a limited number of tickets remain for Sunday’s game. ... Rays pitchers struck out 54 batters in their four games prior to Tuesday, a club record for a four-game span. ... On Tuesday, Maddon visited Dealey Plaza in Dallas, site of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. “Total conspiracy theorist. I don’t believe the Warren Commission at all. I believe there was more than one shooter,” he said. ... The’ lineup card in the clubhouse paid tribute to Robin Williams with this quote from the late comedian/actor: “You’re only given a little spark of madness, you must never lose it.”