Chris Colabello, the 32-year-old journeyman who was a major part of the Toronto Blue Jays' magical 2015 campaign, has been suspended 80 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, the league announced Friday.
Pursuant to the league's drug policy, Colabello - the first player ever to test positive for PEDs while on Toronto's 25-man roster - will be suspended without pay.
On Friday, more than a month after testing positive for an anabolic steroid called dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, Colabello called a team meeting to inform his teammates of his suspension, according to Sportsnet's Arden Zwelling, who noted that the veteran first baseman was "very emotional."
In a statement released shortly after his suspension was announced, Colabello denied knowingly taking any banned substance.
"On March 13, I got one of the scariest and most definitely least expected phone calls of my entire life," Colabello wrote in a statement. "I was informed by the Players Association that a banned substance was found in my urine. I have spent every waking moment since that day trying to find an answer as to why or how? The only thing I know is that I would never compromise the integrity of the game of baseball."
"I love the guy," manager John Gibbons told John Lott. "He's fought the odds his whole life. He'll fight this."
Last year, Blue Jays fans fell in love with Colabello, too, after the oft-discarded, former independent league star arrived in Toronto in May and never stopped hitting. Colabello, who managed a .649 OPS over parts of two seasons with the Minnesota Twins before being claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays last December, hit an improbably .321/.367/.520 (142 OPS+) with 15 home runs after joining the Blue Jays, becoming an integral part of the lineup that managed an MLB-best 891 runs last year. After helping the Blue Jays snap a 22-year postseason drought, Colabello continued to deliver throughout the playoffs, too, managing an .830 OPS in 41 plate appearances while smacking big home runs in Game 4 of the ALDS and Game 5 of the championship series.
Regression had hit Colabello hard through the first few weeks of 2016, though, as he went just 2-for-29 (.069) with no extra-base hits, two walks, and nine strikeouts through his first 10 games.