Lawton finishes suspension for testing positive for steroids

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CLEVELAND (AP) – Seattle Mariners outfielder Matt Lawton was activated Wednesday after serving his 10-day suspension for testing positive for steroids.

Lawton was not in the lineup for the game against the Indians, but he was relieved to be eligible to play again.

During his suspension, Lawton, who signed a one-year free agent deal with Seattle in December, was allowed to take batting practice and be in Seattle’s clubhouse. However, he had to leave when the game began.

Lawton was suspended on Nov. 2, 2005, for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Because he tested positive under baseball’s former program, Lawton had to miss the first 10 days of this season.

Under the new, tougher rules, a positive test would have meant a 50-game suspension.

Lawton said he’s ready to play when Mariners manager Mike Hargrove gives him the nod.

“I’m still in pretty good shape from spring training,” he said. “I had a lot of at-bats so that helped. I’m as ready as I’m going to be.”

This spring, he batted .367 with eight doubles and eight RBIs in 49 at-bats.

The Mariners were one of the few teams willing to take a chance on the 34-year-old.

, who played for Pittsburgh, the Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees last season. Seattle signed him to a one-year, $400,000 deal with a limited no-trade clause.

He can earn an additional $1.25 million in performance bonuses based on plate appearances and would get the full amount if he reaches 600. He earned $7.5 million in 2005, completing a $27 million, four-year contract he agreed to with Cleveland in December 2001.

Since his suspension was announced, Lawton has never hid his guilt. He said the toughest part was having to confess to his family that he intentionally took boldenone, which is used by veterinarians.

Lawton batted a combined .254 last season with 13 homers and 53 RBIs in 141 games.

To make room for Lawton, the Mariners designated catcher Guillermo Quiroz for assignment. They also optioned right-hander Jeff Harris to Triple-A Tacoma and recalled catcher Rene Rivera from Tacoma.

AP-ES-04-12-06 1723EDT

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