On January 6th, 2009, J.C. Romero was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for an illegal drug on Major League Baseball's banned substance list.
Immediately, Romero adamantly defended himself and had the proof to back himself up.
The Major League Baseball Players Association had told Romero that the supplement was perfectly fine to take (the MLBPA then sent out another letter in November saying the supplement could cause a positive test), his personal nutritionist had approved of the substance, and Romero even brought the substance up to Dong Lien, the Phillies' strength and conditioning coach.
Although Major League Baseball never completely admitted that Romero cheated, they did accuse Romero of negligence.
Negligence? Is checking with the Players Union, his personal nutritionist, and his strength and conditioning coach not enough?
What made the situation worse was the fact that the bottle Romero had bought had absolutely no warning label on it.
Yet, at his arbitration hearing, the bottle MLB showed had a warning label. You can speculate that to be what you want, but Romero's original bottle had no warning label.
In the end, the suspension ended up costing Romero $1.25 million and the first 50 games of '09.
That was then, this is now.
Now, the suspension is turning out to be more costly than most supposed it would be.
His 2.75 ERA, 52 strikeouts, 1.34 WHIP, and 24 holds last season in 81 games provided the Phillies with a reliever who can be trusted to be called upon every other day, especially in the playoffs, where he pitched 7.1 scoreless innings.
In 2007 with the Phillies, he recorded a 1.24 ERA in 51 games.
Yet, with the best bullpen in the National League from 2008 returning for '09, his absence was not expected to create any longstanding conflicts.
While the bullpen still sits at eighth in the Majors and fifth in the NL, the load on Ryan Madson has been increased. More noticeably, Brad Lidge has had to be used in nearly the same number of non-save situations as he has in save situations.
Many believe this constant change in situation for Lidge is what has launched Lidge into his troubles.
Whether this is the case or not, that remains to be seen. Yet, considering the fact that Lidge's season completely went off when he was forced to make the switch from closer to set-up in Houston, it seems to be a likely possibility.
If you still believe J.C. Romero was and is a steroid user, just take this into consideration:
It was proven the supplement was not found in his body for the duration of the 2008 playoffs, in which he pitched 7.1 scoreless innings.
This was the first time he tested positive for this substance, and he has recorded an ERA under 2.00 two times in his career, 2008 not being one of them, and an ERA under 3.00 three other times in his career, not including 2008.
The fact that he approached three separate sources for confirmation on the substance, one of them being the MLB Players Association, and was assured by the clerks at each of the two stores he bought the substance that it would not cause a positive test shows he was in no way, shape, or form attempting to cheat.
The lack of a warning on the substance's label didn't seem to help much, either.
But now, with the Phillies entering their 44th game of the 2009 season this evening, Romero has just six more games to watch and wait before his is eligible to return.
You can bet he'll be ready.