MLB commutes Guillen's suspension
Royals outfielder will not have to miss time due to new policy
KANSAS CITY -- For Jose Guillen, the uncertainty is finally over.
His 15-day suspension for violations of Major League Baseball's drug-prevention policy has been commuted, it was announced Friday afternoon.
"Now it's time to focus on baseball and put this behind me and help this team to win some more games," a smiling Guillen said. "It's not going to be an issue anymore, and I'm glad it's over with."
Guillen received his penalty on Dec. 6, 2007, just after he had signed a three-year, $36-million contact with the Royals. Club management was aware that a suspension was possible at the time.
A week later, the Mitchell Report was released, with the recommendation that players named in the report not be punished.
With Friday's announcement that MLB and the Players Association have agreed to an enhanced drug policy that enacts all of former Sen. George Mitchell's recommendations, Guillen's punishment was revoked.
"I'm just glad it's behind us and we can move forward," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. "Now we can just focus on baseball, which is all any of us ever wanted to do."
"I'm very pleased that that's solidified and over and closed," manager Trey Hillman said. "Hopefully, we can just go out and any of us -- him, included I'm sure, to some degree -- and not worry about that anymore. It really makes our lives easier."
As the lifting of the suspension was announced, Guillen was mired in a sluggish start. In the first nine games, he was just 6-for-37 (.162) with two doubles and five RBIs. With runners in scoring position, he was 3-for-14 (.214).
Hillman was asked if he thought Guillen was pressing to validate his big contract or as a result of the pending penalty.
"He's a human being and he cares, he really does. He's passionate about what he does. I think he's excited about getting a three-year contract here. ... I don't see how it couldn't have affected him, a little bit at least," Hillman said.
"I think he has [pressed] a little bit simply because I know he's more disciplined than he has been most of the time with his at-bats so far. I know we'll see more discipline from him, which always makes a guy a better hitter."
Guillen shrugged off the idea.
"I don't know what 'pressing' is," he said. "Jose Guillen will be there. I'll be fine. I know the type of player I am, I know what I can do to get myself ready. Trust me, I will be there."
Except for three games at Minnesota, the Royals have been playing in cold, wet weather so far.
"A lot of players start slow in a different kind of weather. Just be patient a little bit. I will come around," Guillen said.
The 15-day penalty was supposed to go into effect on March 30, which would have kept Guillen out of 12 Royals games. Just before Opening Day, however, the suspension was put on hold for 10 days while negotiations on the Joint Drug Agreement continued.
That period ended Tuesday and, on Wednesday, his stay was extended another week.
Hillman said he and Guillen never discussed the pending penalty in detail.
"He's continued to work hard. Obviously he's not off to a great start, but I've got to believe it's going to be a relief to him," Hillman said.
Guillen was linked to the alleged purchase of human growth hormone by the San Francisco Chronicle. The drug was banned by Major League Baseball in January 2005.
As part of the new agreement, Major League players, including players named in the Mitchell Report, will join MLB to help educate youth and their parents regarding the dangers of performance-enhancing substances.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.