(Reuters) - Major League Baseball rocked ballparks from San Diego to New York and impacted pennant races from coast-to-coast on Monday as it handed down unprecedented suspensions.
Along with marquee name Alex Rodriguez’s record 211 game ban, 12 other players drew 50-game suspensions as commissioner Bud Selig dropped the hammer on drug cheats.
The group included All-Star shortstop Jhonny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers and Ever Cabrera of the San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz, with Peralta’s and Cruz’s absence likely to affect their teams’ postseason hopes.
The suspensions followed an exhaustive investigation by MLB into players linked to Biogenesis, the now-shut, Miami anti-aging clinic accused of distributing performance enhancing drugs.
It had already led to a 65-game ban for Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun and will no doubt have a lasting impact on other teams in the coming months:
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The Texas Rangers, AL representatives in the World Series in 2010 and 2011, saw their playoff hopes take a massive hit when slugging outfielder Nelson Cruz was handed a 50-game ban.
A two-time All-Star, Cruz was the big bat in the Texas lineup this season leading the team in both home runs (27) and runs batted in (76).
His absence in the lineup will be felt with Texas locked in a battle with the Oakland Athletics for top spot in the AL West.
The 33-year-old Dominican is a proven post season performer earning most valuable player honors in the 2011 AL Championship series against the Detroit Tigers when he hit six home runs and drove in 13 runs.
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Expecting that All-Star shortstop Jhonny Peralta was in the MLB doping probe’s cross-hairs, the American League champions Detroit Tigers made a pre-emptive strike acquiring promising infielder Jose Iglesias from the Boston Red Sox at Tuesday’s trade deadline.
A two-time All-Star the 31-year-old Dominican was enjoying a solid season batting .305 with 11 homers and 54 RBI.
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Shortstop Everth Cabrera was the only member of the San Diego Padres to play in July’s Mid-Season Classic and that now is certain to be the highlight of the 26-year-old Nicaraguan’s season after being slapped with a 50-game ban.
The switch-hitting Cabrera has spent his entire five-year Major League career with the Padres and this season had appeared in 95 games belting four home runs and 31 RBIs.
The speedy Nicaraguan was also one of baseball’s most successful thieves leading the NL with 44 stolen bases last year and had been on pace to break that this season with 37 steals.
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With all the attention on Rodriguez little attention was paid to 27-year-old Venezuelan catcher Francisco Cervelli the other member of the New York Yankees nabbed in the MLB investigation.
Cervelli has spent entire six year career with the Yankees but saw limited action the last two season.
On the disabled list since April 27 with a broken right hand, Cervelli appeared in just 17 games this season with eight RBI and three homers.
Born to a Venezuelan mother and Italian father, Cervelli played in the 2009 World Baseball Classic for the Italian national team.
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Philadelphia Phillies Dominican lefthander Antonio Bastardo, one of the team’s top relievers, was also hit with a 50-game ban.
Bastardo, who has spent his entire Major League career with the Phillies, has a 2.32 ERA this season in 42.2 innings of work posting a 3-2 record.
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The rest of players receiving suspensions are all currently playing in the minor leagues.
Two members of the New York Mets outfielder Jordany Valdespin and minor league outfielder prospect Cesar Puello were hit with 50 game suspensions.
Valdespin had appeared 66 games this season for the Mets batting .188 with four homers and 16 RBIs but his currently on the roster of the Mets Triple-A Las Vegas 51s farm club.
Pitching prospects Fautino De Los Santos of the Padres and Houston Astros’ Sergio Escalona, Yankees outfielder Fernando Martinez and Seattle Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, all in the minor leagues, also received 50-game suspensions.
Free agent pitcher Jordan Norberto was given a 50 game that will be effective once he signs with another Major League organization.
All other suspensions are effective immediately. None of the players will appeal their discipline.
Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal, all of whom already have served 50-game suspensions as a result of their violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program stemming from their connections to Biogenesis, will not receive additional discipline.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto,; Editing by Gene Cherry