MLB Tags 3rd Player For Steroids

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 steroids policy.

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 Double-A Texas League. He is 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA in eight innings over five relief appearances.

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 appearances 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 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.

This is the first season in which players are penalized for first offenses. In 2004, players testing positive for the first time were sent for counseling and their names were not revealed.

By Ronald Blum