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Rising MLB star slammed with 80-game suspension

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Jorge Bonifacio was expected to enter the season as the team’s starting right fielder, but instead he’ll start the year ineligible to play for 80 games after a PED suspension.

Bonifacio tested positive for the anabolic steroid Boldenone.

His ban will start on Opening Day, and the first game he’ll be eligible to return is on June 29 vs. the Mariners.

Bonifacio took responsibility for his actions Sunday.

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Boldenone is a drug that many MLB players have been caught using, with the most infamous case involving former Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia. The right-hander tested positive for the drug in two of his three failed drug tests. The third failed test in 2016 resulted in his becoming the first player to be banned for life from MLB for multiple PED offenses.

The drug has also made its way into other sports, as MMA fighters and MLS players have been suspended for testing positive for Boldenone. Even a racehorse — a filly named Perfectly Poised — was found to have the drug in its system, which resulted in its trainer being fined $10,000.

Bonifacio made his MLB debut with the Royals in April 2017. He appeared in 113 games and posted a .255/.320/.432 slash line. He hit 17 homers and drove in 40 runs while making the most of his starts in right field.

“Of course, it was a shock,” Royals manager Ned Yost said when he found out about the positive test. “Jorge Bonifacio is one of the finest young guys we’ve got on this team. I don’t know the details. I still don’t. But it was very shocking when [GM] Dayton [Moore] told me this was happening.

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“It really made me kind of sick to my stomach a little bit, because he is such a neat kid and a big part of our team. But we’ll get through it. It’s 80 games and we’ll continue to support him and make sure this never happens again. Like I said, I’m not sure exactly the circumstances, but I’m sure that’ll all come to light here soon.”

This is an especially tough blow for the Royals as they already lost their two best players during the offseason. First baseman Eric Hosmer and center fielder Lorenzo Cain departed in free agency to San Diego and Milwaukee, respectively.

With departures of OF Melky Cabrera and DH/OF Brandon Moss, the Royals will have an overhaul of their outfield and DH positions excluding left fielder Alex Gordon. Bonifacio is still expected to be part of the makeover, but not until late June.

In the meantime, Kansas City will roll with some combination of Jon Jay, Paulo Orlando and Michael Saunders to complete their outfield. Those three combined for just 10 home runs last year in nearly 700 at-bats.

One bright spot for the Royals this offseason was re-signing Mike Moustakas to a below-market deal.

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The two-time All-Star turned down a qualifying offer of $17.4 million for the 2018 season as he thought he could get more on the open market.

But Moustakas (and his agent) overestimated his value as not only did he not receiver a better offer in free agency, he didn’t receive another offer period, according to USA Today. He and the Royals finally agreed to a one-year contract, but it’s worth just $6.5 million — so Moustakas lost out on nearly $11 million.

Bonifacio will also lose out on salary, but for a far different reason. The 80-game suspension will cost him nearly $235,000.

He is the second Royals player in two years to test positive for a banned substance. In May 2016, Raul Mondesi Jr. tested positive for the drug clenbuterol and was hit with an 80-game suspension. The suspension was later reduced to 50 games after it was shown that the substance was ingested via cold medicine.

We haven’t officially started the 2018 season yet but Bonifacio is already the fourth player suspended for a violation of the league’s drug program. Astros pitcher Dean Deetz, Nationals catcher Raudy Read and Pirates pitcher Nik Turley were all previously hit with 80-game suspensions.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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