MLB bans Pichardo 50 games

NEW YORK -- San Francisco Giants pitcher Kelvin Pichardo was suspended for 50 games Monday following a positive test for a banned performance-enhancing substance under Major League Baseball's drug program.

The 23-year-old right-hander, who has never appeared in the major leagues, was 2-4 with a 2.48 ERA in 48 relief appearances last season at Double-A Connecticut of the Eastern League. He was optioned to Triple-A Fresno on March 5.

Pichardo will serve his suspension at the start of the season and will lose approximately one-third of the $65,000 salary on the minor league side of his contract, which calls for him to receive $400,000 if brought up to the majors.

"The Giants were disappointed to learn that one of our players, Kelvin Pichardo, has failed a test for a performance-enhancing drug," the team said in a statement. "Our organization fully supports Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

"We will continue to provide Pichardo with the necessary support and counsel during his suspension."

Pichardo became the third player penalized this year under the major league program. Philadelphia Phillies reliever J.C. Romero and New York Yankees minor league pitcher Sergio Mitre were suspended for 50 games each on Jan. 6 after testing positive for banned substances contained in over-the-counter supplements.