Rollins appeared to be one of finalists to win the second left-handed reliever spot in the Seattle bullpen. But a regrettable decision in the offseason crushed those hopes.
PEORIA, Ariz. — The opportunity for David Rollins to make the Seattle Mariners’ opening-day roster ended Friday.
Rollins appeared to be one of the finalists to win the second left-handed reliever spot in the Seattle bullpen. But a regrettable decision in the offseason crushed those hopes.
Major League Baseball announced that Rollins, who the Mariners acquired from the Astros in the Rule 5 draft in December, has been suspended for 80 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug — stanozolol, an anabolic steroid. Rollins was notified of the positive test a few days ago. He accepted the suspension and will not appeal the ruling.
Royals 5, Mariners 1
At Surprise Stadium
Notable: James Paxton struggled, not making it out of the fourth inning. Paxton pitched 32/3 innings, giving up five runs (two earned) on four hits with three walks and a strikeout. Paxton gave up a two-run homer to Eric Hosmer in the first inning. In the fourth inning, he gave up back-to-back, two-out RBI doubles. ... Tyler Smith had the Mariners’ only hit.
Player of the game: Royals starter Yordano Ventura tossed seven no-hit innings while issuing two walks.
Quotable: “My timing was off. I was standing up too much and I wasn’t following through and spinning toward third base and wasn’t really using my legs. It’s something I will have to go into the bullpen and fix. It shouldn’t be anything too hard to make a little adjustment.” --- Paxton
On tap: The Mariners return to Peoria Stadium to host San Francisco on Saturday afternoon. Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma starts for Seattle. First pitch is 1:05 p.m. It will be televised on ROOT Sports and broadcast on ESPN 710.
“It was a mistake on my part,” he said. “It was very bad judgment, and I’ve been regretting it ever since. It’s been tough for me and my family. I just want to apologize to my fans, my family, the Seattle organization and everyone I’ve disappointed. I don’t want to come off as a wrong person and be labeled as a cheater. It wasn’t like that at all. I deeply regret what I did.”
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The reasoning for the poor decision?
“It was when I got back from winter ball and I was sore and I was trying to speed up my recovery,” he said. “It was bad, bad judgment.”
It ended his bid for a big-league spot. He had pitched well this spring, making seven appearances and had allowed one run in eight innings with seven strikeouts. Because the Rule 5 guidelines would force the Mariners to keep him on the 25-man roster or offer him back to the Astros, there was a strong chance of Rollins making the opening-day roster and he knew it.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I’ve thought about it. It’s been heavy on my heart. It hasn’t been easy the past couple of days. I’m just glad I got the opportunity to show them that I can compete.”
Rollins informed general manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Lloyd McClendon after he was notified.
“That was very hard,” he said.
Zduriencik was caught off guard by the news
“Yeah, it’s a shock,” he said. “I’m disappointed in David. It was an error in judgment. The young man made a mistake. He’s not the first, and he probably won’t be the last. It’s unfortunate. He was in a good position with how he was pitching and where he was at with the ballclub. But now you just have to recalculate. We’ll stand by him and walk him through this. There’s a lot yet to be determined with his Rule 5 status and how that all plays out. We don’t have all the answers right now.”
Zduriencik said that based on what he has been told by MLB, Rollins will be removed from the 40-man roster and placed on the suspended list and remain the Mariners property for the duration of the suspension.
McClendon now has one less candidate for his bullpen.
“It’s a difficult situation,” he said. “Obviously, we are very disappointed with what has transpired. It what is it is and we’ll get past it. I certainly don’t condone it … Major League Baseball has a system in place, and I trust that process.”
If McClendon chooses to go with a left-hander for the final spot, it leaves veteran Joe Saunders and minor-leaguer Tyler Olson as the only candidates. Saunders has made six appearances this spring and has a 12.79 ERA, having given up nine runs in 61/3 innings. But he does have major-league experience. Olson, who spent most of last season at Class AA Jackson, has not given up a run in eight spring appearances over 92/3 innings.
McClendon could also eschew the extra lefty and bring along right-hander Carson Smith to join the group of returning right-handers.
Another option, but possibly a longshot, is the reacquisition of Joe Beimel. The Mariners had hoped to re-sign the veteran left-hander after he pitched well for them in 2014 (3-1, 2.20 ERA in 56 appearances). But the discussions broke down. Beimel signed a minor-league contract with the Rangers and was released a week ago.
• Brad Miller was sent home on Friday after feeling the cold and flu-like symptoms that had been going through the clubhouse.
• Roenis Elias is not listed on the next round of Cactus League starts — a sign he won’t make the rotation out of spring training. Elias will throw a bullpen session in two days and pitch in a minor-league game two days after.