CLEARWATER, Fla. — Antonio Bastardo's standing in the Phillies organization was never endangered. The lefthander knew as much the day he called Ruben Amaro Jr. last August to tell him he was suspended 50 games for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.
"Take the suspension," Bastardo remembered Amaro saying. "We're not going to make it this year. I need you for next year."
Bastardo forfeited approximately $460,000, but the stain will linger. He admitted Thursday to violating Major League Baseball's joint drug agreement. He accepted the 50-game suspension because he was advised that an appeal could result in a 100-game ban. He remains confident in his ability.
"I don't feel like I have to prove myself," Bastardo said. "I feel confidence in myself and what I need to do. Just do it. Just get people out."
Bastardo posted a 2.32 ERA in 48 games last season prior to the suspension. The Phillies cannot assume Mike Adams will hold down the eighth inning and Bastardo is one candidate for the job. Lefties hit .168 against him from 2011-13. Just three relievers were stingier.
Manager Ryne Sandberg said he expects Bastardo to play "a big part in the bullpen." He will earn $2 million in 2014.
"He's been one of the best lefthanded pitchers against lefthanded hitters in baseball," Sandberg said. "He has a track record of that. I look forward to more of that."
Bastardo said he returned to the Dominican Republic during the suspension and recharged during a vacation. He impressed during 14 innings of winter ball with a 1.93 ERA and 24 strikeouts. That, he said, makes him ready to perform after the embarrassment of 2013.
"I made a mistake," Bastardo said, "and I paid the price."
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