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Red Sox minor leaguer Mickey Pena suspended for 100 games; future with Sox unclear

06.16.14 at 8:01 pm ET
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Mickey Pena, a left-hander pitching for the Red Sox‘ Double-A affiliate in Portland, has been suspended for 100 games by Major League Baseball for a third positive test for a drug of abuse. The suspension will effectively end his 2014 season, and the Red Sox — according to a source familiar with the team’s thinking — have yet to make a decision one way or the other about whether this suspension (his second in as many years; he missed 50 games last year with High-A Salem after testing positive for a drug of abuse) will mark the end of his tenure in the organization.

When the Red Sox selected Pena in the sixth-round of the 2011 draft — and signed him for a bonus that fell well below the slot recommendation — they did so knowing that the left-hander had considerable talent (a four-pitch mix and willingness to throw strikes) but a lengthy history of discipline problems that included being sent home from the Cape League for smoking pot. Most who know him — players and industry officials — describe him as a likeable, engaging personality who simply doesn’t seem to be able to avoid bad decisions.

Pena pitched well in Lowell in 2011 (2.35 ERA, 22 strikeouts, three walks in 15 1/3 innings) and again in Single-A Greenville in 2012 (8-7, 2.95 ERA, 8.1 strikeouts and 1.9 walks per nine), and even despite his 50-game suspension in High-A Salem last year, he pitched well enough (6-7, 4.00 ERA, 6.0 strikeouts and 3.0 walks per nine) to earn a year-ending promotion to Double-A Portland.

This year, Pena had struggled to a 6.41 ERA in 13 starts. But whereas his performance had made it unlikely that he would be selected in the Rule 5 draft (for which he’ll be eligible after this year if not added to the 40-man roster), his suspension makes it virtually impossible to imagine a team selecting him. That is about the only thing that is now clear about Pena’s baseball-playing future beyond this season.

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