Second violation costs pitcher 100 games

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NEW YORK (AP) – Arizona Diamondbacks minor league pitcher Angel Rocha was suspended for 100 games Tuesday, the toughest penalty baseball has levied for a positive steroids test.

Rocha was suspended for 15 games last June 6.

“We understand and support the commissioner’s policy on this matter, and agree with the importance and impact of the proper enforcement,” Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes said in a statement.” We will continue to make education a top priority for our players at all levels of our system.”

Four players were suspended for 50 games each for testing positive: Los Angeles Angels pitcher Karl Jelinas, New York Mets pitcher Jorge Reyes, St. Louis outfielder Yonathan Sivira and San Diego pitcher Matthew Varner.

The penalty for an initial positive test this year was increased from 15 games to 50 for players with minor league contracts, and the penalty for a second positive test rose from 30 games to 100.

For major leaguers, the punishment was lengthened from 10 days to 50 games – but any test for major leaguers is treated as a first positive test.

There were 81 suspensions last season for violations of the minor league drug program, and four minor league pitchers were suspended last week.

AP-ES-04-18-06 2007EDT

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