I’ll have more on this later, but a source close to Nationals minor leaguer JR Higley said this morning that the outfielder will be suspended 50 games for taking a banned substance.
The outfielder, who is at Single-A Hagerstown, is on an MLB-approved prescription for Adderall to control attention deficit disorder, the source said. According to the source, Higley took one dose of Concerta, another ADD medication he was not approved to take, when his Adderall prescription ran out.
Higley, drafted in the ninth round of the 2008 draft, is hitting .233 at Hagerstown this season. He hit .276 at short-season Vermont and Hagerstown last season.
Update (2:07 p.m.): I got this e-mail from Joshua Kusnick, Higley’s agent, who said Higley assumed he was covered to take Concerta because he had MLB approval for Adderall. Here’s what Kusnick said:
“I was informed that JR Higley has been notified that he has been suspended for 50 games under the MLB Drug testing policy. JR has been prescribed Adderall by a doctor to deal with his ADD. MLB has granted JR an exemption for this; however, at some point during the year JR took a Concerta when his Adderall prescription ran out assuming that there would be no issue. Much to JR’s chagrin and utter disappointment he was mistaken and now must face the consequences of his mistake. This was not a performance-enhancing drug issue nor was it an issue for a drug of abuse. This was a one-time mistake that JR made when his prescription for his MLB-approved medicine ran out. JR is extremely remorseful for what has transpired and will personally apologize as soon as possible. Make no mistake about this, JR feels terrible about all of this and has said through me that he is beyond sorry for making this one time mistake.”
The Nationals declined to comment on the suspension.
Update (6:00 pm.): MLB just announced the Higley suspension, effective immediately, and also announced that Hagerstown shortstop Steven Souza has been suspended 50 games for the same two substances - methyphenidate and ritalinic acid, both active ingredients in ADD and ADHD medications. Souza was hitting .231 at Hagerstown.