Perez is first player disciplined for testing positive for stimulant

DETROIT -- Tigers infielder Neifi Perez became the first
player penalized for testing positive for a stimulant under Major
League Baseball's drug program Friday.

"I say to my fans that I am not stupid," Perez told the
Dominican radio program Impacto Deportivo in his homeland. "I know
the difference between good and bad and there are things that are
going to be known going forward, but my lawyer has advised me not
to talk for now."

Neifi Perez


I say to my fans that I am not stupid. I know the difference between good and bad and there are things that are going to be known going forward, but my lawyer has advised me not to talk for now.

Neifi Perez

Tigers teammates didn't seem to have a lot of sympathy for the
seldom-used player, whose 25-game suspension will cost him about
$400,000 of his $2.5 million salary.

Under pressure from Congress, baseball owners and players agreed
in November 2005 to a toughened drug plan, which included testing
for stimulants for the first time.

Baseball doesn't release the names of players who test positive
for amphetamines the first time, which results in counseling. The
player then is subjected to at least six additional tests over the
next year.

"The rules are in the books," shortstop Carlos Guillen said in
Detroit's clubhouse, which was closed to the media 40 minutes later
than normal following a team meeting.

Outfielder Magglio Ordonez, sitting next to Guillen, chimed in.

"Rules are rules. You break the rules ..." Ordonez said before
Guillen finished his thought.

"You pay," Guillen said.

The suspension takes effect immediately and the money he loses
will depend on days off. The 34-year-old Perez would be eligible to
return around Aug. 4 against the Chicago White Sox.

Losing Perez will not likely affect the defending AL champions
much because Perez was hitting a mere .172 with one homer and six
RBIs in just 64 at-bats in the team's first 83 games.

Perez has made at least one significant contribution this
season, though, starting a spectacular double play to end the
eighth inning of Justin Verlander's no-hitter last month.

Detroit acquired Perez from the Cubs last season for a minor
leaguer, adding infield depth less than a week after losing star
second baseman Placido Polanco to an injury. He is a former Gold
Glove shortstop, in 2000 with the Colorado Rockies. He also has
played for Kansas City, San Francisco and Chicago.

Perez struggled last season for the Tigers, and has not improved
his production this year.

Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said the
organization supports Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention
and Treatment Program, adding he didn't see how the team could bear
any responsibility for Perez's suspension.

"Everybody is educated," Dombrowski said. "Everybody knows
the program."

The Tigers purchased the contract of outfielder Ryan Raburn from
Triple-A Toledo to take Perez's place on the 25-man roster.

Stimulants were banned prior to the 2006 season. Under the
policy, a third positive test for amphetamines results in an
80-game suspension. A fourth brings a lifetime ban.

Only one player has been suspended for performance-enhancing
substances this year under MLB's drug program: Tampa Bay Devil Rays
relief pitcher Juan Salas received a 50-game penalty on May 7. The
right-hander was reinstated Tuesday.

In 2007, baseball also has penalized 16 players for doping
violations under its minor league program. Nine were suspended 50
games each for taking performance-enhancing drugs, and New York
Mets minor leaguer Jorge Reyes was banned for 100 games for a
second positive test. Four were suspended for using drugs of abuse;
one for failure to test; and one for unspecified doping violations.