Tigers’ Perez is first player penalized in stimulant test

The 25-game suspension will cost him about $400,000 of his $2.5 million salary.

DETROIT (AP) — Tigers infielder Neifi Perez became the first player penalized for testing positive for a stimulant under Major League Baseball’s drug program Friday.

“I say to my fans that I am not stupid,” Perez told the Dominican radio program Impacto Deportivo in his homeland. “I know the difference between good and bad and there are things that are going to be known going forward, but my lawyer has advised me not to talk for now.”

Tigers teammates didn’t seem to have a lot of sympathy for the seldom-used player, whose 25-game suspension will cost him about $400,000 of his $2.5 million salary.

Under pressure from Congress, baseball owners and players agreed in November 2005 to a toughened drug plan, which included testing for stimulants for the first time.

Baseball doesn’t release the names of players who test positive for amphetamines the first time, which results in counseling. The player then is subjected to at least six additional tests over the next year.

“The rules are in the books,” shortstop Carlos Guillen said in Detroit’s clubhouse, which was closed to the media 40 minutes later than normal following a team meeting.

Outfielder Magglio Ordonez, sitting next to Guillen, chimed in.

“Rules are rules. You break the rules ...” Ordonez said before Guillen finished his thought.

“You pay,” Guillen said.

Suspension in effect

The suspension takes effect immediately and the money he loses will depend on days off. The 34-year-old Perez would be eligible to return around Aug. 4 against the Chicago White Sox.

Losing Perez will not likely affect the defending AL champions much because he was hitting just .172 with one homer and six RBIs in just 64 at-bats in the team’s first 83 games.

Perez has made at least one significant contribution this season, though, starting a spectacular double play to end the eighth inning of Justin Verlander’s no-hitter last month.

Detroit acquired Perez from the Cubs last season for a minor leaguer, adding infield depth less than a week after losing star second baseman Placido Polanco to an injury. He is a former Gold Glove shortstop, in 2000 with the Colorado Rockies. He also has played for Kansas City, San Francisco and Chicago.

Only one player has been suspended for performance-enhancing substances this year under MLB’s drug program: Tampa Bay Devil Rays relief pitcher Juan Salas received a 50-game penalty on May 7. The right-hander was reinstated Tuesday.

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