Detroit Tigers’ Jeimer Candelario reacts to Robinson Cano’s positive PED test

Detroit Free Press

Evan Petzold
 
| Detroit Free Press

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Detroit Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario didn’t know New York Mets second baseman Robinson Cano — his longtime friend and workout partner — was taking a performance-enhancing drug.

Cano, 38, tested positive for stanozolol, a synthetic steroid, and will be suspended for the entire 2021 season, according to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s statement Wednesday. He will forfeit his entire $24 million salary.

After spring training was halted in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Candelario went back to the Dominican Republic, where he trained with Cano in San Pedro de Macoris until summer camp in July at Comerica Park.

“I didn’t know about that,” Candelario, 26, said Wednesday. “I never knew about that.”

[ Candelario’s secret edge in position battle: Tips from Cano ]

This is the second time Cano, an eight-time All-Star, has been suspended for performance-enhancing drugs. He tested positive for a diuretic in 2018 with the Seattle Mariners, and MLB handed him an 80-game suspension. 

Candelario hasn’t reached out to Cano, but he plans to make contact soon.

“I saw the news,” Candelario said. “He’s a human being. I’m here all the time. He’s my friend. I can’t tell more than that. … I’ll give it a couple of days, and then probably I can reach him. Like I said, it’s not that much I can say.”

The Mets acquired Cano in a December 2018 trade with the Mariners, who sent Cano, reliever Edwin Diaz and cash to New York in exchange for three prospects — outfielder Jarred Kelenic, right-hander Gerson Bautista and righty Justin Dunn — along with outfielder Jay Bruce and right-hander Anthony Swarzak.

In 2019, Cano had a .256 batting average with 12 homers and 39 RBIs in 107 games for the Mets. 

Last season, he experienced a late-career breakthrough (with his highest batting average since 2010 with the New York Yankees) in his 16th year in the majors: hitting .316 with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs in 49 games.

“We were extremely disappointed to be informed about Robinson’s suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” Mets president Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “The violation is very unfortunate for him, the organization, our fans, and the sport. The Mets fully support MLB’s efforts toward eliminating performance enhancing substances from the game.”

Candelario’s shortened season featured a rise in success. He was named 2020 Tiger of the Year.

He hit .297 with seven homers and 29 RBIs in 52 games for the Tigers this past season. From Aug. 2 to Sept. 15, in a 39-game stretch, Candelario had a .373 batting average and .641 slugging percentage.

In 2019, Candelario went back-and-forth between Triple-A Toledo and the Tigers. He only played 94 games because of his offensive inconsistencies, hitting .203 with eight homers and 32 RBIs.

And in 2018, the third baseman had a .224 batting average, 19 home runs and 54 RBIs in 144 games.

Outfield instructor retires

On Monday, former Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge congratulated longtime outfield instructor Gene Roof on his retirement. Tigers manager of communications Ben Fidelman confirmed Wednesday that Roof, 62, decided to retire after the 2020 season.

During his 12-year professional playing career, Roof spent three seasons in MLB with the St. Louis Cardinals (1981-83) and Montreal Expos (1983). He retired after playing five games for Triple-A Toledo in the 1987 season.

But Roof stayed connected to baseball — and the Tigers.

He has remained a member of the organization since his official retirement as a player in 1988. He was the manager for the Fayetteville Generals (Single-A) in 1989, London Tigers (Double-A) in 1991, Toledo Mud Hens (Triple-A) from 1997-99 and Jacksonville Suns (Double-A) in 2000.

Between Roof’s time with Double-A London and Triple-A, he was the big-league first base coach for manager Sparky Anderson from 1992-1995.

In 2001, Roof shifted gears, becoming the Tigers’ minor-league outfield and base-running coordinator — a position he held until his retirement in 2020. 

Roof trained players within the franchise for more than 30 years. Most recently, he helped 2019 No. 5 overall pick Riley Greene refine his skills in the outfield.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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