Free-agent catcher Taylor Teagarden gets 80-game suspension

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Friday, April 1, 2016

NEW YORK -- Former major league catcher Taylor Teagarden, among the athletes accused of using performance-enhancing drugs in a December report by Al Jazeera, was suspended for 80 games by Major League Baseball.

In its announcement Friday, MLB said Teagarden violated the big league drug program but did not specify the nature of the violation.

The suspension is effective as of Opening Day of the 2016 season.

In an undercover video made for Al Jazeera, Teagarden admitted after last season to taking performance-enhancing drugs "last year" and was "scared" because of an upcoming drug test, which he passed. He wasthe only athlete seen in the video, which aired Dec. 27, and admitted to taking a banned substance called Delta-2.

Al Jazeera accused several high-profile athletes of using performance-enhancing drugs, among them Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard, Washington first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and then Denver quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning denied the allegations, and William Burck, a lawyer for Howard and Zimmerman, called the charges "outright lies."

Teagarden appeared in eight games for theChicago Cubslast season and 63 more in the minor leagues.

In eight major league seasons, Teagarden, 32, has a .202 batting average with 21 home runs and 70 RBIs with four teams.

Two other minor-league players --Baltimore's pitcher Lex Rutledge and Arizona's pitcher Cameron Smith -- were suspended 50 games each Friday for violations of baseball's minor league drug program.

The commissioner's office said Friday that Rutledge had a second positive test for a drug of abuse and Smith had committed an unspecified violation.

Rutledge, a 24-year-old left-hander on the roster of Class A Frederick in the Carolina League, was a sixth-round draft pick in 2012. He retired in January 2015 and re-signed this Jan. 31.

Smith, a 23-year-old lefty, was a 36th-round draft pick last year and went 7-1 with a 1.68 ERA in 13 starts for Missoula of the Pioneer League. He struck out 62 in 53 innings.

There have been 27 suspensions this year for violations of the minor league program.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.