Blue Jays prospect Orelvis Martinez suspended 80 games for PED use

Martinez said he was prescribed a fertility drug after spending the past two years trying to start a family with his girlfriend

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The feel-good story surrounding Orelvis Martinez, who recorded a hit in his big-league debut, took a decided turn for the worse as the Blue Jays continue to go deeper into the abyss.

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On the day the Blue Jays were set to close out their three-game series in Cleveland, news broke that Martinez, the club’s No. 2 prospect, had been suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

With family in attendance at Progressive Field on Friday, Martinez had a hit.

He’s now been hit with a suspension that will likely keep him from playing the rest of the season in the show after he tested positive for Clomiphene, a fertility drug on the league’s banned substance list.

In a statement, Martinez said he had spent the past two years trying to start a family with his girlfriend and was prescribed Rejun 50, a Clomiphene tablet, over the winter after visiting a fertility clinic in his native Dominican Republic.

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“We wanted to keep this matter private, even within our family, and trusted the doctor who assured us this treatment did not include performance-enhancing drugs,” Martinez said in the statement. “Therefore, I made the mistake of not disclosing this to my team or the MLBPA. With that said, I took full responsibility for my negligence and accepted my suspension.”

Martinez, 22, was called up last Tuesday when Bo Bichette (calf) went on the injured list.

It’s terrible news for Martinez, terrible timing for the Blue Jays, who were swept for the first time this season when Boston took three at Rogers Centre and were poised to get swept again Sunday having lost the first two games against the host Guardians.

Martinez became this symbol of hope on a Blue Jays team that has looked hopeless at the plate, sliding six games under .500 following Saturday’s loss.

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“The Blue Jays fully support Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, and strongly believe in keeping the game on a level playing field,” the club said in a statement.

“We were both surprised and disappointed to learn of Orelvis Martinez’s suspension. We will do everything in our power to ensure Orelvis has learned from this mistake.”

A native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Martinez batted .260 with 16 homers and 46 RBIs over 63 games with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons this season.

For clerical purposes, Martinez moves to the restricted list, which allowed the Blue Jays to add OF Steward Berroa to the roster.

Berroa, 25, has been a catalyst in the minors, swiping 29 bases and is adept at playing all three outfield positions.

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Martinez broke the news Saturday to GM Ross Atkins and manager John Schneider.

Each expressed surprise and disappointment at the bombshell their young prospect dropped on their lap.

“The fact he’s taking responsibility is a good first step,” Schneider told the media in Cleveland. “He knows he made a mistake.”

For obvious reasons, the news came out of left field, to borrow a baseball metaphor.

Martinez is a prospect whose time in the big leagues, for now anyway, was about to expire as soon as Tuesday when Bichette was eligible to come off the IL.

So much fanfare was made of Martinez’s arrival to Toronto because so much has gone wrong for the Blue Jays this season.

Offensively speaking, the Jays have been wretched.

Many viewed Martinez as some kind of saviour, which seemed quite absurd but it also speaks to the desperation level the club has reached.

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Martinez’s suspension only adds to the misery the Blue Jays have endured, similar, in some ways, to the plight of the Raptors this past season when another feel-good story in Jontay Porter blew up when he was suspended for life by the NBA for gambling.

At least Martinez has the chance to return to the majors.

On the field, Atkins has plenty on his plate having watched his team lose five in a row heading into Sunday’s play, describing the past five days “a big setback.”

“To get to be at this point has been a disappointment for everyone in the clubhouse. We are frustrated and disappointed as well,” he said. “We know the fans’ disappointment and we share that.”

In his final at-bat Saturday, Daulton Varsho injured his lower back after hitting a groundout in the ninth inning. He never made it out of the box. Varsho was expected to have Sunday off.

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