Minnesota Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco will have to sit out 80 games this season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Jorge Polanco PED suspension
Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco will sit out the first 80 games of the 2018 season while serving a suspension for testing positive for Stanozolol. (Image: AP/Kamil Krzaczynski)

Polanco received the suspension from Major League Baseball after testing positive for Stanozolol. The medication is an anabolic steroid that is no longer marketed for human use in the United States, and is one of the more common PEDs used by athletes.

The suspension will begin at the start of the MLB regular season in April, and will keep him out of action through roughly the first half of the 2018 campaign.

Ignorance Isn’t Bliss

In a statement, Polanco accepted the suspension, but maintained that he had not knowingly broken any rules.

“To be clear, I did not intentionally consume this steroid,” he said. “The substance that I requested from my athletic trainer in the Dominican Republic and consented to take was a combination of vitamin B12 and an iron supplement, something that is not unusual or illegal for professional athletes to take. Unfortunately, what I was given was not that supplement, and I take full responsibility for what is in my body.”

The 23-year-old Polanco first reached the majors with the Twins back in 2014. His first significant playing time came in 2016, and last season, he was the primary shortstop for the team. In 133 games, Polanco hit .256 with 13 home runs and 74 RBI.

While hardly a star player, Polanco was a major contributor down the stretch for Minnesota, helping them secure one of the two wild card positions for the American League playoffs. The Twins lost to the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game, ending their season.

Teammates Show Support

Polanco’s teammates have said they plan to stand by their teammate during his suspension. In particular, he received unconditional support from Miguel Sano, a fellow Dominican who has known Polanco since they were young players in San Pedro de Macoris.

“He was crying last night. I talked to him a lot,” Sano told the Pioneer Press. “This is a bad spot for us, for the team, for him and for his family. He told me he never tried to do that.”

Twins first baseman Joe Mauer echoed those sentiments, saying that from what he had seen of Polanco, he was inclined to believe his side of the story.

“With what he said and what happened, he’s the type of guy that I believe him,” Mauer said. “He’s a pretty stand-up guy and he works hard. I don’t think he would do anything knowingly to hurt himself of the ball club.”

During Polanco’s absence, Eduardo Escobar will likely take the bulk of time at shortstop for the Twins. From 2014-2016, Escobar was the primary shortstop for the team, and he played 129 games at a variety of positions for Minnesota last year as well.

After a solid 85-77 season last year, the Twins enter 2018 on the lower end of teams considered to be playoff contenders. While the Cleveland Indians are overwhelmingly expected to win the American League Central – William Hill has the Indians listed at 1/5 odds to take the division crown – Minnesota is the second choice at 6/1. The Twins are also a 50/1 pick to win the World Series this year.