MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco has been suspended for 80 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, a big blow to a team that has made a series of roster-enhancing moves throughout the offseason and into spring training.
The commissioner’s office announced Sunday that Polanco tested positive for Stanozolol, becoming the sixth player to be banned this year under the major league drug program. That’s already one more than last season.
Polanco started 127 games at shortstop last year for the Twins, finishing with a .256 batting average, 13 home runs, 13 stolen bases and 74 RBIs in his first full season as a regular in the lineup. His grandfather died in June, and the switch-hitting 24-year-old struggled through the early part of the summer until being benched temporarily in late June.
From Aug. 1 through the rest of the season, though, he hit .316 with 10 home runs and 42 RBIs over his last 55 games while taking over the No. 3 spot in the batting order and helping the Twins reach the AL wild-card game.
Without Polanco, the Twins will turn to Eduardo Escobar, who has played more shortstop for the team than anyone since 2014. Their signing of 12-year veteran Erick Aybar to a minor league contract last month could also pay off, with another experienced option for the middle infield while Polanco is out.
The Twins issued a statement expressing disappointment with the news and support of Major League Baseball’s drug prevention and treatment program. They said the organization would have no further comment.
Polanco, in a statement released by the players’ union, said he didn’t realize he’d taken a banned substance.