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Friday, April 22
Players were tested at Florida camps

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Former New York Mets pitcher Grant Roberts was among nine players suspended for 15 games Friday for violating baseball's minor-league steroids policy, raising the total this year to 47.

Roberts was removed from the Mets' major-league roster last November and went to spring training with a minor-league contract. The 27-year-old right-hander pitched in one spring training game, pitching a scoreless inning March 6 against Washington before being released April 14.

He has a 5-5 career major-league record with a 4.25 ERA in one start and 75 relief appearances with the Mets from 2000-04.

In 2003, the Queens district attorney's office decided not to file criminal charges in a case involving Roberts and a former girlfriend who released a photograph of him smoking marijuana. Roberts said in 2002 that the woman, Jodi Turner, attempted to extort money from him before releasing the photograph, which dated from 1998 and was later published by Newsday.

"You never like to see somebody in that situation," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "What can you say? It's an issue you'd rather not see anybody be in."

Said manager Willie Randolph: "It's unfortunate."

Baseball specified in its announcement Friday that all suspensions were for performance-enhancing substances. Baseball classifies marijuana as a drug of abuse, a different category.

Outfielder Adam Seuss, who was released by the Mets and then signed with the Houston Astros, also tested positive for violating the steroids policy.

Three of the players suspended were from the Baltimore Orioles organization -- Gary Cates Jr., Rafael Diaz and Richard Salazar.

"The players are very well educated on the policy. Unfortunately, it happened despite all that education, so we're disappointed and they'll have to pay the consequences," Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan said.

"I don't feel any embarrassment at all. I think the responsibility from our side is to get the word out, the news out, to educate our players on this, the downside of doing these things. Unfortunately, some still choose to do it and it's going to continue," he said.

Also suspended were James Jurries and Ricardo Rodriguez (Atlanta Braves), Eider Torres (Cleveland Indians) and Damien Myers (released by the Detroit Tigers).

John Farrell, Cleveland's director of player development, would not comment on what substance Torres took. He said Torres obtained it in the offseason in Venezuela and the player told the Indians he was shocked that it was a banned substance.

"He made a choice he's regretful for," Farrell said. "He's vowed not to be involved with this type of substance again."

Major-league baseball said the latest suspensions resulted from 251 tests taken at Florida spring training camps. Of the prior suspensions, 37 came as a result of 925 tests at Arizona camps and one from offseason testing.

All but one of the previous suspensions were for first offenses, with Oakland's David Castillo drawing a 60-game ban, the penalty for a third offense.

Three players have received 10-day suspensions this year for violating the major-league steroids policy -- Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder Alex Sanchez, Colorado Rockies outfielder Jorge Piedra and Texas Rangers minor-league pitcher Agustin Montero, who was on the big-league roster during spring training.

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