NEW YORK >> 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). He is the second player under the big league program to test positive for HGH, which has been screened for by baseball in blood tests since 2013.
“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.
Wright was arrested on Dec. 8, 2017, at his home outside of Nashville, Tennessee, and charged with domestic related assault and prevention of a 911 call, both misdemeanors. The Boston Globe reported prosecutors retired Wright’s case contingent on him completing an anger management course, refraining from violent contact with his wife, and incurring no new criminal charges for a year.
Wright pitched three years for the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors before he was taken in the second round of the 2006 MLB Draft (No. 56 overall) by the Cleveland Indians.
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.
He was originally on the roster for the first-round playoff series against the New York Yankees, but he told manager Alex Cora before Game 1 that his knee was bothering him. He did not appear in the postseason, when the Red Sox won their fourth World Series since 2004, and he had surgery on his left knee on Nov. 12.
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.
The only other player to test positive for growth hormone under the big league program was Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Josh Ravin in 2016. Four players have tested positive for growth hormone under the minor league program since 2015.