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The Marlins have signed Alex Sanchez to a minor league contract and he is a non-roster invitee to spring training.

Desperate for an affordable but experienced center fielder, the Marlins are taking a chance on the first player disciplined in 2005 under baseball's toughened steroids rules.

Alex Sanchez, a career .297 hitter with speed but questionable defense, will compete for the center field spot in spring training after signing a minor-league deal Friday.

Sanchez, 30, a native of Cuba who came to the United States on a rickety raft 12 years ago, was suspended April 3, 2005, for 10 days for violating baseball's new policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

At the time, he was the first player publicly identified through the major leagues' tougher rules, and it surprised the baseball world. While the use of performance-enhancing drugs is associated with home-run sluggers, Sanchez had just four career home runs in 1,351 at-bats when he failed the drug test.

"I'm surprised because look at what kind of player I am. I'm a leadoff hitter. I never hit any home runs,'' Sanchez said at the time, blaming the positive test on something he bought over the counter.

"I know I did nothing incorrect. ... I take stuff I buy over the counter. Multivitamins, protein shakes, muscle relaxants. That kind of stuff.''

Back when I played fantasy baseball, it turns out that writing a blog takes a bit of one's time, I had Alex Sanchez on one of my teams and I was shocked to hear he had tested positive for steriods.  At the time, I knew it wasn't because he wanted to increase his power.  Since if he did, he might hit the ball all the way to an outfielder and therefore hurting his batting average.

False positives happen - I'm not saying it happened in his case but the only reason I can think of that he would use steriods is for a quicker recovery period after stealing bases.

Sanchez is a light hitting center fielder with speed.  A poor man's Juan Pierre, if you will.  In the past, he has bunted a lot and was a natural leadoff hitter but his history of crappy defensive play is somewhat troubling to me.  On the plus side, he runs down his misjudgments very quickly in the field.  If you can consider that a plus side.

Should you decide to read the article in its entirety, it does touch on his brave trip from his native country Cuba to the U.S.  It is possible that the man has come too far through too many hardships to just go through the motions now.

Come spring training, we will know.

If you would like to checkout his bio, we once again turn to the Marlinpedia.

Alex Sanchez