NORFOLK, Va. - When Major League Baseball made the 50-game suspension of Orioles minor league catcher Brian Ward official today, Dan Duquette could comment on the situation with Ward for the first time.
Here is the release from MLB:
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that Baltimore Orioles Minor League catcher Brian Ward has received a 50-game suspension after a second violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a drug of abuse. The suspension of Ward, who is currently on the roster of the Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds, will be effective immediately.
Duquette did point out that there was some error that listed Ward on Aberdeen's roster and that is not where he was set to play this year.
"He has to serve a 50-game suspension and he has to come back after the suspension. There's not much I can say about it. It is part of the drug testing program that Major League Baseball has in place and we support (that) and are part of Major League Baseball," Duquette said.
Ward was very likely going to be the starting catcher for Double-A Bowie this year, after throwing out more than 52 percent of attempted base stealers for a Single-A Frederick team last year that won the Carolina League championship.
Duquette was asked if the organization will welcome Ward back after his suspension ends or if he could face further discipline from the club.
"I think the suspension is part of the program, and the program is in place to dole out sanctions and have the employee return to work," Duquette said.
On another matter, Duquette said he was not too concerned that the Orioles will begin the year with just one lefty in the bullpen.
"We've tried to build the bullpen so that our pitchers can get out both right and left handed hitters and we have a number of pitchers in the pen that are capable of doing just that. I think our pitching staff has all qualified major league pitchers and having some additional depth at Triple-A will strengthen our major league staff."
One final note from Norfolk: The Orioles yesterday signed catcher Chris Robinson, and he was on the Norfolk roster today. He will likely stay with this Norfolk team. Last year, with Triple-A Iowa, he hit .316 with one homer and 29 RBIs.
He is a 27-year-old native of Canada who was drafted by Detroit in the third round in 2005.
In adding Robinson and Zach Phillips today, Norfolk now has 29 players on its roster, including four catchers. The Tides will have to trim four to get down to the 25-man limit before tomorrow's season opener.