A decision on a possible suspension for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton is on hold until Major League Baseball hears from an arbitrator on whether it can punish the five-time All-Star for violating the league’s drug policy, reports the Los Angeles Times.
According to the report, a decision from the arbitrator could come as soon as Friday. If the arbitrator rules that Hamilton did not violate his treatment program, MLB cannot suspend him.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told SiriusXM Radio that a decision on a potential suspension on Hamilton would probably be made "shortly after" Opening Day. The Angels open the regular season Monday against the Seattle Mariners.
Hamilton, 33, had a reported substance abuse relapse and under baseball’s current drug policy, any player who does not adhere to the requirements of the drug program or tests positive for a drug of abuse is in violation of the policy.
Hamilton met with baseball officials in New York on Feb. 25 and a four-person panel of two attorneys and two physicians—MLB's commissioner's office and the players association appointed one of each—was reportedly deadlocked over how to punish Hamilton after his relapse.
MLBPA condemned anonymous leaks of Hamilton’s relapse, saying they were "cowardly" and undermined the "integrity of our collectively bargained agreements and in some instances have been wholly inaccurate."
Hamilton is entering the third season of a $125 million, five-year contract with the Angels and is set to make $25 million this season.
He is expected to be out until May after having surgery to repair the AC joint in his right shoulder. If Hamilton is suspended while on the disabled list, it would count as time served.
"We're going to take it one step at a time," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Josh isn't ready to play baseball right now. We're kind of business as usual. You can't answer questions until you're sure exactly what is going to happen."
- Scooby Axson