Boston Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright will sit out the first 80 games of the season after testing positive for human growth hormone, a second suspension for the knuckleballer who missed 15 games last year for violating baseball's domestic violence policy.
Wright, 34, said in a statement issued through the Major League Baseball Players Association that he learned of the positive test during the offseason.
"Although I do not dispute the validity of the test, I was shocked as I have never intentionally ingested anything for performance-enhancing purposes," the statement said. "I have fully cooperated with MLB and will continue to try and identify the source of the result."
The commissioner's office said Wright tested positive for growth hormone releasing peptide 2 (GHRP-2).
"While we are disappointed by the news of this violation, we will look to provide the appropriate support to Steven at this time," the Red Sox said in a statement.
A starter for most of his career, Wright spent the bulk of last season in the bullpen, going 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA in 20 games. In addition to the 15-game suspension, he also missed all of April recovering from knee surgery and then went back on the disabled list with knee inflammation and missed all of August.
Wright is ineligible to play in any postseason games this year and he will lose about half of his salary of $1,375,000. Last year's suspension cost him $94,624 of his $1.1 million salary.
Leclerc reaches deal
Right-hander Jose Leclerc and the Texas Rangers agreed to a $14.75 million, four-year contract, a deal that covers the seasons the closer would be eligible for salary arbitration.
Leclerc would be eligible for free agency after the 2023 season. The deal could be worth $26.25 million over six years.
A 25-year-old right-hander, Leclerc became the Rangers' closer last season and went 2-3 with a 1.56 ERA and 12 saves in 16 chances. He converted his final 12 chances and finished with a 21-inning scoreless streak. He led big-league relievers with a .126 opponents' batting average.
Perez undergoes surgery
Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right elbow, a procedure that will sideline the six-time All-Star for the upcoming season.
The surgery was performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the Dodgers' team physician. The recovery time is usually about a year, meaning Perez could be back for Opening Day next season.