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Houser’s suspension evaporates

Posted Feb 28, 2008 by Marc Lancaster

Updated Feb 28, 2008 at 09:17 PM

A strange loophole in Major League Baseball’s rules has cut short Rays pitcher James Houser’s suspension.

Houser was a non-roster player when he was suspended for 50 games last August after testing positive for a “performance-enhancing substance” while playing for Montgomery. That ban came with only 15 games left in the Biscuits’ regular season and Montgomery went on to play nine playoff games, so Houser was expected to miss the first 26 games this year after being sent to the minors. He originally was slated to go to the Arizona Fall League following last season but his suspension made him ineligible.

The Rays added the Sarasota native to their 40-man roster in November to protect him from being taken in the Rule 5 draft, and that move apparently trumps the suspension, even when Houser is eventually sent to the minors—which he will be at some point in March.

“As a member of the major league 40-man roster, Houser is not subject to minor league rules and is no longer considered suspended,” Rays spokesman Rick Vaughn said tonight.

If Houser is outrighted off the 40-man at some point in the future and sent to the minors, he would have to serve the rest of his suspension, Vaughn said.

Houser is clear for now, however, and is scheduled to pitch against the Reds in Sarasota in tomorrow’s Grapefruit League opener.

The 23-year-old left-hander never has discussed what led to his suspension. Earlier in spring training, he refused to talk even in general terms about dealing with the stigma or anything else involving his situation.

“I don’t even know what to say,” he said at the time. “I’m sorry about that. I’m doing good, though.”


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