A big second half by shortstop Jorge Polanco helped push the Minnesota Twins into the playoffs last season. This year, they’ll try to start fast without him.
Polanco was suspended 80 games on Sunday after testing positive for the performance-enhancing substance Stanozolol. He became the sixth player to be banned this year under the major league drug program – one more than last year.
Polanco hit .256 with 13 home runs and 74 RBIs last season while starting 127 games at shortstop. The 24-year-old also stole 13 bases in helping the Twins earn an AL wild-card spot.
In a statement released by the players’ union, Polanco said he didn’t ”intentionally consume this steroid.”
Polanco said he requested a substance from his athletic trainer in the Dominican Republic, but was given something else.
ELSEWHERE AROUND THE GRAPEFRUIT AND CACTUS LEAGUES
METS 5, ORIOLES 4
The Mets said lefty Jason Vargas will have surgery after his right hand was broken by a line drive in a minor league game Friday. No timetable was announced for his return.
New York starter Noah Syndergaard pitched seven innings, giving up one run and striking out five. Travis d’Arnaud homered and doubled.
Chris Davis returned to the Baltimore lineup for the first time in two weeks after injuring his right forearm and drove in the only run off Syndergaard with a single. Starter Dylan Bundy allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings.
BRAVES 6, ASTROS 3
Newly signed Anibal Sanchez made his first start for Atlanta and gave up two runs in four innings. He was recently released by Minnesota and pitched in place of Scott Kazmir, who was scratched with a bruised jaw – he was hurt playing catch a few days earlier. Braves prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. got three more hits and raised his average to .432.
Gerrit Cole made his fifth start for Houston, pitching five innings and allowing three runs. Carlos Correa had two hits.
CARDINALS 10, NATIONALS 0
Jose Martinez homered and doubled for St. Louis. Washington starter A.J. Cole gave up one run and two hits in four innings.
YANKEES 8, MARLINS 5
Gary Sanchez hit his fourth spring home run for New York, Greg Bird also connected and newly signed Neil Walker had two hits in his second game. Ace Luis Severino struck out seven in five innings. Brian Anderson had two hits, including his third home run for Miami.
BLUE JAYS 5, PIRATES (SS) 2
Danny Espinosa had an RBI single, a day after getting four hits in his first game since signing with Toronto. Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ gave up one run in six innings and closer Roberto Osuna allowed a run for the first time in six spring games. Starling Marte hit his third homer for Pittsburgh’s split squad. Rotation hopeful Steven Brault allowed a hit and a walk, pitching four shutout innings and lowering his ERA to 1.69.
RED SOX 2, PIRATES (SS) 1
Andrew Benintendi homered and Brian Johnson pitched four shutout innings for Boston. Adam Frazier drove in the only run for Pittsburgh’s split squad.
RAYS 10, TIGERS 5
Tampa Bay ace Chris Archer pitched two-hit ball for 5 1/3 shutout innings. Matt Duffy had three hits for the Rays and Carlos Gomez had two hits, including a home run. John Hicks had a two-run double for Detroit and Niko Goodrum hit his third homer.
TWINS 4, PHILLIES 3
Byron Buxton had two hits and stole his fifth base for Minnesota. Jake Odorizzi made his third start for the Twins, pitching four scoreless innings. Philadelphia starter Aaron Nola allowed two runs in five innings.
PADRES 2, DODGERS (SS) 1
Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw struck out eight without issuing a walk in five shutout innings. He hasn’t allowed a run in 14 2/3 innings this spring. Kershaw also doubled home the Dodgers‘ run – that was the only hit Tyler Ross permitted in four innings. Hunter Renfroe and Freddy Galvis homered for San Diego and Eric Hosmer had two hits and walked.
GIANTS 13, ROCKIES 0
San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner threw one-hit ball for six innings. Hunter Pence homered – batting .065 nine days ago, he has eight hits in his last 17 at-bats. Andrew McCutchen had three hits and Nick Hundley homered and doubled for the Giants. Trevor Story doubled for Colorado and is batting .457.
ROYALS 11, CUBS (SS) 9
Mike Moustakas homered for the second straight game and Jorge Soler hit his sixth homer for the Royals, tying Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis for the most spring shots. Willson Contreras hit his fourth homer for Chicago.
Both starters struggled. Tyler Chatwood gave up five runs in five innings and Danny Duffy, who will start the opener for Kansas City, was tagged for six runs in 4 1/3 innings.
INDIANS (SS) 11, CUBS (SS) 4
Yandy Diaz had three hits for Cleveland’s split squad and Eric Haase had a grand slam. Anthony Rizzo fanned twice leading off for Chicago’s split squad and prospect Ryan Court hit his fourth home run.
INDIANS (SS) 16, MARINERS 3
Yan Gomes hit a grand slam and drove in five runs and Yonder Alonso had his third homer for Cleveland’s split squad. Seattle starter Rob Whalen was tagged for nine runs in two-plus innings.
BREWERS 7, DODGERS (SS) 3
Christian Yelich hit his first spring home run for Milwaukee, singled and walked while Ryan Braun had two doubles. Matt Kemp and Yasmani Grandal drove in runs for Los Angeles’ split squad.
REDS 6, DIAMONDBACKS 3
Scott Schebler hit his third home run and prospect Alex Blandino had two hits, raising his average to .387 for Cincinnati. Arizona starter Zack Godley yielded four runs and struck out seven in 4 2/3 innings. Amir Garrett, competing for a spot in the Reds’ rotation, made his first start and fifth appearance, pitching four shutout innings and allowing a hit to lower his ERA to 1.38.
ATHLETICS 14, WHITE SOX 0
Matt Joyce hit a leadoff home run and grand slam for Oakland. Chicago starter James Shields was roughed up for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings and has a 9.39 ERA this spring. Michael Kopech, a pitching prospect for the White Sox, entered in the fifth inning but retired just one batter while giving up seven runs.
ANGELS 4, RANGERS 2
Nick Tropeano made his case for a back-of-the-rotation spot with Los Angeles by pitching five shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing two hits. Martin Perez, recovering from a broken bone at the tip of his right elbow, made his first start for Texas and gave up one run in five innings.