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Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - Page updated at 12:54 a.m.

Mariners

M's prospect Strong banned for 10 days

Seattle Times staff reporter

Jamal Strong is hitting .235 for Tacoma this season.

ARLINGTON, Texas — While all the players followed Seattle team officials' lead and said nothing on the record, there was general surprise in the Mariners' clubhouse last night after hearing the news about Jamal Strong.

Strong, an outfielder who made the major leagues for a dozen games as a September call-up last year and plays for the Class AAA Tacoma Rainiers, was suspended for 10 days yesterday by Major League Baseball for violation of its drug policy.

Sources said Strong's violation was discovered during recent random testing.

One Mariner said, "Jamal is one of the last people you'd expect to have a problem. It has to be a GNC supplement he was taking."

When eight Seattle minor-league players were suspended earlier this month for drug-policy violations during spring training, Seattle's medical staff made it clear they advised all players that there is no nutritional supplement guaranteed to test clean.

General manager Bill Bavasi's comment was much like the one-paragraph statement from the Mariners that had been included in the release from MLB announcing the action on Strong.

"We're disappointed," Bavasi said. "But that's what the testing is for — to find these things out, as painful as they are."

Bavasi said team officials had spoken with Strong, who is with the Rainiers in Colorado Springs.

"He is allowed to work out, but he's got to be off the bench, off the field, for the game," the GM said. "I believe he can stay in the park, but I'm not sure he'd want to."

Bavasi said an appeal is an automatic part of the MLB process in such situations. "It's already been taken into consideration," he added.

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When asked the organization's feelings about Strong being the ninth Seattle player found in violation, Bavasi said, "I've said all I'm going to say. There's a testing program in place to take care of this."

Mariners manager Mike Hargrove declined to comment beyond the club's statement, saying, "It wouldn't serve any purpose beyond that for me to say anything."

The statement read: "The organization is extremely disappointed that one of our players has violated the Major League Baseball Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. This result is very upsetting. At the same time, we support baseball's efforts to address this issue, because the only way to eliminate the use of banned substances is an effective testing program."

Asked if there is a lesson in Strong's situation for other players, Hargrove said, "I doubt there is anything you can learn from this. All you have to do is turn the TV on."

The eight other Seattle players, including catcher Ryan Christianson, were suspended for 15 days because that is the policy regarding minor-leaguers. Strong's penalty was less severe because he is on the Mariners' 40-man roster.

At Tacoma, Strong had appeared in 12 games and was hitting .235 (12 for 51) with three runs batted in and 10 runs.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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