NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Mets’ L.J. Mazzilli, a son of former major league All-Star and manager Lee Mazzilli, was suspended for 50 games Tuesday under baseball’s minor league drug program following a second positive drug test.
L.J. Mazzilli, on the roster of the Mets’ Class A team at St. Lucie of the Florida State League, will serve the penalty at the start of next season, the commissioner’s office said Tuesday. The substance was described as a drug of abuse but not specified.
“Unfortunately in life, you cannot go back on a bad decision that was made, and in my case, one that I very much regret,” L.J. Mazzilli said in a statement released by the Mets. “After everything my loved ones, supporters and the N.Y. Mets have given me, especially an opportunity to chase my childhood dream, I couldn’t be more ashamed and sorry. I am fully ready to own up to my mistake and accept the repercussions from Major League Baseball.”
The headline goes "L.J. Mazzilli son of Lee suspended for 50 games", and the photo with the story is not of the young player, but of his father. That should give some idea of what it's like being the son of a former MLB player, particularly one that played for the same team and was so well known. His father isn't a footnote, but the lead, even now. To an extent, that's understandable. It's also a unique form of pressure, adding to an already high-pressure situation.
However, when the younger Mazzilli made his professional debut in the New York Penn League, after the Mets drafted him in the 9th round of the MLB Draft out of the University of Connecticut, followed by fanfare of a press conference at the big club's stadium post-draft, he buckled down. He also never shied away from the incessant questions about his father. He was honored to talk about him and patient with the constant curiosity.
He spent 2014 splitting time between three levels, finishing the season hitting .301/.361/.440 through 131 games.
Mazzilli Jr.'s work ethic and professionalism are well-known to anyone that covered him or knows him personally. And in his post-suspension statement he talked about being "ashamed" and "responsible."
He spoke for a story on this blog earlier this year about needing to rediscover his focus, eliminating things that distressed or distracted him, sounding like a young guy just trying to find his way. This seems like more of the same.
According to reports, he was expected to open the 2015 season with Double-A Binghamton. Instead, he'll begin with a 50-game suspension. When he finally gets back on the field, he'll need to play himself back to where he'd progressed to last season. At 24, this could be a mere blip in a promising career.