Houston Astros pitchers Bryan Abreu and Kent Emanuel got some bad news on Thursday.
Things aren’t looking too good for a couple of young pitchers. The Houston Astros optioned Bryan Abreu off the roster on Thursday along with infielder Jack Mayfield, as teams had to trim their rosters to 28. Meanwhile, left-hander Kent Emanuel was popped with an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
Mayfield being optioned isn’t much of a surprise, but Abreu losing his spot would’ve been almost unthinkable a couple of weeks ago. He looked strong in his brief cup of coffee in the big leagues last season and was in a position to claim a key role in the bullpen. Unfortunately that didn’t work out for a number of reasons.
Abreu made four appearances this season, and though he only allowed one earned run, the rest of his numbers were troubling. In 3.1 innings, he walked seven batters and hit two more, frequently displaying an inability to throw strikes. It became clear that manager Dusty Baker, in his constant search for reliable arms, simply couldn’t use Abreu in high leverage situations.
It apparently started when Abreu showed up to summer camp out of shape and overweight, according to Baker. Then things snowballed when the pitcher was simply thinking too much, which is never a good thing. It sounds like he needs a mental break and some time to get back in shape.
Mysterious Positive Test
Emanuel, a 28-year-old left-hander who was the team’s third round pick in 2013, is on the 40-man roster but was not in the team’s player pool as he’s been rehabbing an injury. He tested positive for Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (DHCMT), also known as Turinabol, though apparently there’s more to this story.
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His statement, which was short, said, “I do not know how seven picograms of the long-term metabolite of DHCMT got into my system, but I know I have never knowingly or intentionally taken oral Turinabol.” A picogram is defined as being one-trillionth of a gram, so Emanuel had seven-trillionths of a gram in his system, which is an insanely small amount.
ESPN investigative reporter T.J. Quinn recently explained that Turinabol is simply not a drug that someone who’s trying to use performance-enhancing drugs would take — it’s difficult to hide and there are many better options available these days. That, combined with the extremely small quantity, leads me to believe Emanuel is being truthful.
Regardless of that, however, he will still serve the suspension, as he did fail the drug test. Lack of intent does not absolve a player. Perhaps it was hidden in another supplement he took, perhaps he took something and didn’t examine it closely enough. Still, I’m of the belief that he did not intentionally violate the drug policy.
We don’t know whether Emanuel would’ve been able to pitch this season, but now we know he won’t. His suspension will run into next season, so that’s all for him this year. As for Abreu, hopefully he can get into shape and clear his head and come back strong later in the season.