Shortstop Erick Almonte has become the 2nd known player in the Milwaukee Brewers organization to have a drug ban reversed; 3 months after Ryan Braun’s suspension was lifted on appeal. Baseball spreads
Almonte, a minor league veteran for the AAA Nashville Sounds who played sixteen games for the Brewers last year and has spent time in 2 seasons with the Yankees, disclosed Monday that a 50-game suspension had been rescinded by MLB after a B sample came back negative.
“From May 29 to June 7 my days were pretty hard,” Almonte said of the time that spanned him learning of the opening call and a controlling on his appeal. “After 17 years of doing things properly, an ineffective test nearly blew all that.
“I’m planning to be a coach shortly and a suspension for violating the drug program would have been fatal to those aspirations.”
Almonte, 34, underwent a routine urine exam on May 4 before a game with the Sounds at Albuquerque.
Three weeks later on the Dominican got a letter from the office of Commissioner Bud Selig in which he was informed he was being banned for amphetamine use and had a few days to appeal.
“I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never used drugs and would not start to utilize them in what will likely be my last season as a player in the USA,” expounded Almonte, who played in 39 games for the Yankees in 2001 and 2003.
“I called the MLBPA, but they basically said to me that could only help players on 40-players lists or active top roster. I was alone in the situation.”
With a bit of help from his agent, Hector Faney, and a $200 payment, Almonte started the appeal process.
In late Feb, Braun became the 1st player to win an appeal to the MLB’s drug-testing program.
But the statistical data were against Almonte: Since 2005, there have been more than 460 suspensions — including 47 in 2012 — for violating the anti-drug program in the minor leagues, and even though winning appeals are unannounced, the probabilities of reversing a permit were almost zero.
“Several folk connected to the process told me that nobody had won an appeal this year and few did from the beginning of the program,” Almonte expounded.
“I was 100% certain that I have not used pills or drugs in 17 years of pro baseball,” he explained.
After reviewing the medical record of Almonte and inspecting the B sample test, Top Baseball sent a second letter to the player’s handler in which he was informed he hadn’t violated the anti-doping program and that his name would not be stored in the Baseball Electronic Information System.
The letter also warned Almonte that in the future he could be tested more often than what is commended by the program.
“I think of all of the players who’ve gone thru the process and were possibly unfairly punished for without knowing the system, with no support, not knowing the language and even for not having the $200 to start the appeal,” announced Almonte, who is batting .203 in a limited role with Nashville.