Romero takes punishment, moves on

Inquirer staff writer Jim Salisbury reports:

Phillies pitcher J.C. Romero met with reporters this morning for the first time since receiving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance.

Romero tested positive for androstenedione after using an over-the-counter dietary supplement last summer. Romero has said his punishment is not warranted because the list of ingredients on the supplement's packaging included no banned substances.

Despite maintaining his innocence, Romero will take his punishment and move on.

``I guess I have to pay the consequences for something that, in my heart, I know I didn't do anything wrong,'' Romero said before the team's first workout for pitchers and catchers.

``I didn't cheat the game of baseball. I did, according to my understanding, everything by the book. It's just unfortunate that the arbitrator didn't see it that way and I have to pay the consequences of perhaps a wrong ruling, I would say.''

In an October arbitration hearing, Romero claimed that he shouldn't be suspended because no banned substance was listed on the label of 6-Oxo Extreme, the supplement that he purchased last summer in New Jersey. He also stated that the Players' Association had informed players that over-the-counter supplements purchased in the United States were safe.

Asked if the Players' Association let him down, Romero said: ``That's for you to decide.''

Romero said he was considering legal action against ErgoPharm, the maker of 6-OXO Extreme.

Romero also said: ``The bottom line is, the commissioner and all the people who run MLB have a job to do. The union has a job to do. I could say I'm the victim. It's a process. I went through the process, the arbitrator didn't see it the way the union and myself saw it. And now I'm sitting here with a 50-game suspension on my back which I still can't comprehend.''

Romero said he may pitch for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, depending on how his arm feels in the next few days.

``I'm trying to focus on the game right now,'' he said. ``I don't want to be a distraction to my teammates. I came here (today) prepared to answer all the questions I have to answer. After that, I've got to prepare myself to win another championship. That's what I'm here for.''

Romero will be eligible to rejoin pitch for the Phillies on June 1. He can pitch in the minor leagues 16 days before that.

His suspension will cost him nearly $1.3 million in salary. He paid $52 for the supplement.

``Fifty-two dollars cost me $1.3 million,'' he said.
There will be more from Romero in Sunday's Inquirer, as well as plenty more Phillies coverage.