Three Pirates minor leaguers suspended for failing drug tests
PITTSBURGH -- Three Pittsburgh Pirates minor leaguers were suspended Wednesday for failing drug tests last year, with Triple-A pitcher Brian Mallette drawing a 30-game penalty as a two-time offender.
Outfielder Jon Nunnally, also with Pittsburgh's Indianapolis farm team, was given a 15-game suspension as a first offender, as was infielder Tom Evans, who plays for Double-A Altoona.
Mallette and Nunnally were with other organizations when the tests were conducted before signing minor league contracts with Pittsburgh. Both attended the Pirates' spring training camp as non-roster players but did not make the opening-day roster.
Evans is the only Pirates farmhand to date to fail a drug test, though results of tests conducted this year among Florida-based spring training teams have not been released. Thirty-eight other minor leaguers were suspended Monday for violating baseball's minor league steroids policy.
"If there's a positive in this, it's that Tom Evans is the only one who has been part of our organization," Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield said. "We have a zero-tolerance philosophy in terms of drugs."
Despite that policy, Littlefield said the Pirates did not plan to release any of the players after their suspensions end.
Mallette, 30, has pitched in only five major league games -- all with Milwaukee in 2002 -- during a nine-season professional career. He was 1-0 with a 2.27 ERA in 40 games with the Reds' Triple-A Louisville farm club last season.
Nunnally, 33, has appeared in 364 games with the Royals, Reds, Red Sox and Yankees but has not played in the majors since 2000. He hit .216 in 79 games last season with Indianapolis, when that team was affiliated with the Brewers. The Indians are now a Pirates farm club.
Evans, 30, began his pro career in 1992 and played briefly for the Blue Jays in 1997-98 and the Rangers in 2000, batting .255 in 42 games.
The program for players with minor league contracts is wider in scope than major league testing and includes tests not only for steroids, but for amphetamines and recreational drugs such as cocaine and marijuana.
"We've been informing our players for years we don't believe in or condone" such usage, Littlefield said.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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