Rangers' pitcher tests positive for drugs

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Texas Rangers minor league pitcher Agustin Montero was suspended for 10 days Wednesday, becoming the third player to test positive under major league baseball's new policy on performance-enchancing drugs.

Agustin, who has never appeared in a major league game, failed the drug test while he was on the Rangers' 40-man roster during spring training. He was designated for assignment on April 2, when opening-day rosters were set, then sent outright to Frisco of the Class AA Texas League. He is 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA in eight innings over five relief appearances.

Texas manager Buck Showalter said Agustin planned to appeal the suspension, and general manager John Hart thought it was "really possible" that the positive test might have resulted from a legally prescribed medication.

"We support him," Showalter said before the Rangers played at Tampa Bay.

Gene Orza, chief operating officer of the players' association, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

A 27-year-old right-hander, Montero spent four years in the Oakland organization and five in the Los Angeles Dodgers system before signing with Texas last Nov. 19. He began this season with a 28-22 record and 4.38 ERA in 28 starts and 234 relief appearance in the minors, then went 0-1 with a 7.15 ERA in 11 1/3 innings over 11 games during spring training with the Rangers.

His contract calls for him to be paid at a yearly rate of $90,000 while in the minors and the minimum $316,000 in the majors. The suspension, which will be served immediately, is without pay and will cost him $4,918.

If Montero had tested positive while on the minor league roster, he would have been suspended for 15 games.

Tampa Bay outfielder Alex Sanchez was the first player suspended under the new major league program, starting his 10-day ban April 3. Colorado outfielder Jorge Piedra was suspended for 10 days starting April 11.

Sheffield cleared

New York Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield won't be punished for his role in a scuffle with fans at Fenway Park last week.

Bob Watson, baseball's vice president in charge of discipline, made the decision Wednesday, a day after meeting with Sheffield and the right fielder's agent at Yankee Stadium.

"We do not condone any interaction between fans and players whether initiated by either fans or players," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "I am pleased that Gary Sheffield showed restraint in not overreacting to the improper and clearly aggressive action of the fan in question."

The commissioner's office said Watson concluded the fan reached over the barrier near the right-field corner during the April 14 game in Boston and "struck Sheffield on the head as he was attempting to field a ball in play."

On Tuesday, Boston police filed applications for misdemeanor criminal charges against two fans -- one who allegedly made contact with Sheffield and another who allegedly tossed a beer at him. A clerk magistrate will determine whether a disorderly conduct charge is warranted against the fans, police spokesman officer John Boyle said.

The Red Sox officials revoked season tickets from Christopher House, the fan who appeared to make contact. The other fan has not been identified, but the Red Sox said he will not be able to buy tickets for games at Fenway this season.

Umpire being investigated

Major league umpire Paul Schrieber is under investigation for an alleged assault on a flight attendant during a trip to Denver last weekend, two sources told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

U.S. attorney's spokesman Jeff Dorschner confirmed federal prosecutors are investigating allegations that a flight attendant was assaulted by a passenger on Sunday.

American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner said the flight attendant was verbally abused and physically assaulted, but would not identify anyone involved.

A baseball source and a law enforcement source, both speaking on condition of anonymity, told the AP that Schrieber was being investigated.

The investigation was first reported Wednesday by the Rocky Mountain News.

The 38-year-old Schrieber worked the games between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies on Monday and Tuesday. He is in his eighth season in the majors.

-- From wire services

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