When Orioles pitchers and catchers report to spring training Feb. 13, left-hander Troy Patton will be among them. But he won't be joining the Orioles when they jog down the orange carpet Opening Day March 31.
Patton, 28, will serve a 25-game suspension for the first month of the season after testing positive for amphetamines on an MLB drug test last year. It was Patton's second failed test (his first, which occurred during spring training of 2010, did not come with a suspension). In both cases, Patton said, his use of Adderall -- a drug often prescribed to treat attention deficit disorder -- triggered the positive test.
Patton said he had nobody but himself to blame for the suspension.
"I took an Adderall when I didn't have the prescription for it at the end of the season, and I knew I shouldn't," Patton said. "It was a stupid mistake, especially having failed one prior test, but … I'm just ready to deal with it and hopefully come back the 26th game."
For Patton, the inability to join his teammates for the Opening Day ceremonies in Baltimore will be a harsh blow, he said.
"It's going to be real frustrating, because my goal every year is to run down the orange carpet," he said. "That kind of means I made it again, another year with the team. So missing those first [three] games against Boston at home is going to hurt real bad. And it did hurt. It was a brutal, brutal couple-week process when we were finding out what was going to happen. But you can't do anything about it now."
A failed drug test can often cripple a player's reputation in the eyes of baseball fans, but Patton said he hoped Orioles fans would be more forgiving because his failed test wasn't steroids-related.
"That's why me and my agent made a real point to make sure that we put that it was Adderall, not a PED," Patton said. "I don't want fans to associate the Adderall with any sort of steroids or anything of that nature, because it's a completely different thing. People take Adderall every day for normal usage, and four times the normal percentage of people in baseball take it than the real world. So there's a lot of baseball players taking it, too.
"It's not something that I was doing to try to get bigger, faster, stronger. It's something I was trying to do to just have some energy and some alertness. So I hope they don't associate the Adderall with PEDs, because they're not even close to the same thing."
Still, Patton assured that he wouldn't make the same mistake again.
"I'm not going to keep Adderall within a mile of me at all," Patton said. "It's a much more serious penalty next time -- 80 games. So my assurance to people is that I can't afford to miss half a season, obviously. So it's not even going to be a question. It's no longer in my repertoire at all. It's over with. …
"I can play without it. I know I can play without it. I have for years. So it's not something I desperately need, but it's something that, if I could work towards getting a [prescription], and not have to worry about if I get into trouble for it, that would be a good thing. I just don't know if it's a realistic hope."
The Orioles' likely plan is to have Patton pitch less often during spring exhibition games than he normally would, then to have him remain in Sarasota, Fla., when the rest of the team breaks camp at the end of March. Patton could later be assigned to a minor league affiliate to get some work in. He's eligible to return to the Orioles for their 26th game, which is scheduled for April 29 in Baltimore against the Pirates.
Patton said he felt as if he had let down his teammates.
"Hopefully I pick them back up for the rest of the season," he said. "Hopefully I can help out after. But those 25 games, I mean, there's probably going to be 12, 13 situations in those 25 games where I would be out pitching and contributing. ... I don't know how many it would've been, but those innings are a letdown for me."
Patton, who holds a 3.04 ERA during 131 career games with the Orioles, could go a long way toward restoring his reputation if he's able to pitch well after his return. And he anticipated that manager Buck Showalter would give him that opportunity.
"Buck is very forgiving," Patton said. "He's a great manager, and he rolls with the punches really well, so he hasn't really been too on my case about it. ... He's not scolding me like a high school coach would or something like that. He expects people to be professionals, and I wasn't in that aspect. [But] if I show up and have a good season and contribute to the team, then I think that will repair itself."