MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Michael Pineda, the Twins' best pitcher since the all-star break, has received a 60-game suspension for a violation of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the team announced Saturday.
"We were disappointed to learn of the suspension of Michael Pineda for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program," the team said in a statement. "We fully support Major League Baseball's policy and its efforts to eliminate banned substances from our game. Per the protocol outlined in the Joint Drug Program, the Minnesota Twins will not comment further on this matter."
Pineda, in a statement of his own, apologized to the organization, fans, his teammates and his family. He said he had taken a medication given to him by an acquaintance in hopes it would safely help manage his weight.
He took the pills without consent of the Twins' training staff, he said. Testing revealed elements of Hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic banned by Major League Baseball.
"This was shocking for me to hear," Pineda said in his statement. "I never intended to cheat the system, other players, or opposing teams."
Generally, suspensions for banned substances are 80 games but an arbitrator reduced it to 60.
"While I am pleased that the arbitrator found there was clear and convincing evidence to reduce my discipline, I realize that I am ultimately responsible for what goes in my body and therefore respect the 60-game suspension that remains," Pineda said in the statement. "I hope that I can be an example to others about how important it is to check with experts before taking any substance from an outside source."
It's a major blow for a division leader that has relied mostly on offense this season. Pineda, 11-5 with a 4.11 earned-run average, has been the Twins' best pitcher the past several months. He started the season working back from Tommy John surgery and a knee injury but is 9-2 with a 3.38 ERA in his past 19 starts.
In a 6-2 loss to Cleveand on Friday, Pineda struck out a season-high 10 and left with a 2-1 lead after striking out the side in the sixth inning. He gave up one run on four hits -- Lindor's 28th home run of the season -- and walked two.
After Lindor's homer, a long shot into the plaza in right field with one out in the third inning, Pineda retired 12 of the next 15 batters he faced. Nine of his past 14 appearances have been quality starts.
Afterward, manager Rocco Baldelli called Pineda "Old Reliable."
"It was just another really good start for him," the manager said. "He's just done nothing but compete exceptionally well. This run of starts, it's been fantastic. To call it consistent doesn't really give him enough credit, I think. He's been great."