Brewers’ Pedro Severino suspended 80 games for fertility drug

Pedro Severino
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NEW YORK — Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino was suspended for 80 games following a positive drug test, the fourth major leaguer penalized in two days.

Severino tested positive for the performance-enhancing substance Clomiphene, the commissioner’s office said. The women’s fertility drug has been used by some athletes to counter side effects of steroids use.

Severino will lose about half his $1.9 million salary. He apologized to the Brewers, teammates and fans.

“Since late 2020, my wife and I had been trying to start a family unsuccessfully,” Severino said in a statement issued by the players’ association. “When we returned to the Dominican Republic after the 2021 season, we sought medical assistance to determine why we had not succeeded. One of the doctors I consulted with prescribed me with a medication to treat infertility issues. Unfortunately, I now know that the medication contained Clomiphene. I accept responsibility for this mistake and have decided not to challenge my suspension.”

A seven-year major league veteran, the 28-year-old is in his first season with the Brewers after playing for Washington and Baltimore. He hit .248 with 11 homers and 46 RBIs last season for the Orioles, leaving him with a .235 career average with 33 homers and 133 RBIs.

“I have been tested more than 100 times in my career and I had never had an issue,” Severino said.

Severino batted .435 with two homers and nine RBIs in eight spring training games. He was expected to serve as the main backup to 2021 All-Star Omar Narvaez, filling a void that was created when the Atlanta Braves signed Manny Pina away from Milwaukee.

Other catchers on the Brewers’ 40-man roster are Mario Feliciano and Brett Sullivan. Feliciano has one game of MLB experience and Sullivan has never played in the majors.

President of baseball operations David Stearns said the Brewers are looking at possible catching options from outside the organization.

“This time of year, this timeframe of a couple of days before opening day, is not ideal to be looking for a specific team need, but we’re already actively engaged in conversations,” Stearns said. “We’ll see if anything comes of that in the next 24-48 hours, and if not, we have confidence in what we have internally.”

Three free agents were suspended Monday following positive tests for Boldenone: outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon. Those were the first suspensions since the major league drug testing program resumed March 11 following a 99-day suspension during the lockout.

All the positive tests resulted from urine samples taken before the lockout started Dec. 2, but MLB concluded it could not announce discipline during the lockout, a person familiar with the testing program told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because that detail was not announced.

Anthony Volpe, 21, wins Yankees’ starting shortstop job

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TAMPA, Fla. — Anthony Volpe grew up watching Derek Jeter star at shortstop for the New York Yankees.

Now, the 21-year-old is getting the chance to be the Yankees’ opening day shortstop against the San Francisco Giants.

The team announced after a 6-2 win over Toronto in spring training that Volpe had won the spot. New York manager Aaron Boone called the kid into his office to deliver the news.

“My heart was beating pretty hard,” said Volpe, rated one of baseball’s best prospects. “Incredible. I’m just so excited. It’s hard for me to even put into words.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, hitting coach Dillon Lawson and bench coach Carlos Mendoza were also present.

Volpe was able to share the news with his parents and other family members near the Yankees’ dugout and said it is something he will never forget.

“It was pretty emotional,” Volpe said. “It was just an unbelievable moment to share with them.”

Volpe, who grew up a Yankees fan, lived in Manhattan as a child before moving to New Jersey. Jeter was his favorite player.

“It’s very surreal,” Volpe said. “I’ve only ever been to games at Yankee Stadium and for the most part only watched him play there.”

Volpe is hitting .314 with three homers, five RBIs and a .417 on-base percentage in 17 Grapefruit League games. He has just 22 games of experience at Triple-A.

Spring training started with Volpe, Oswald Peraza and holdover Isiah Kiner-Falefa competing for the everyday shortstop job. Kiner-Falefa was shifted into a utility role midway through camp, and Peraza was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday evening.

“While certainly the performance was there, he killed it between the lines,” Boone said of Volpe. “All the other things that we’ve been hearing about showed up. There’s an energy he plays the game with, and an instinct that he has that is evident. He really checked every box that we could have had for him. Absolutely kicked the door in and earned his opportunity.”

Volpe arrived in Florida in December to work out at the Yankees’ minor league complex.

“He’s earned the right to take that spot, and we’re excited for him and excited for us,” Cashman said. “He just dominated all sides of the ball during February and March, and that bodes well obviously for him as we move forward.”

Volpe was selected out of high school with the 30th overall pick in the 2019 draft from Delbarton School in New Jersey. He passed up a college commitment to Vanderbilt to sign with the Yankees.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get into the organization,” Volpe said. “This day, this feeling, this moment was kind of what I’ve worked my whole life for when I made that big decision.”

“Right now it’s crazy,” he added. “I don’t even know what lies ahead but Thursday I just want to go out and play, and have fun.”