Juan Gonzalez on steroids: "I never used any of that stuff"

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Juan Gonzaelz.jpgJuan Gonzalez sat for an interview with ESPNDeportes.com on Monday, during which he denied ever taking steroids, saying “I never used any of that stuff,” and saying “I have nothing to hide. Nothing.” This is consistent with what he said in 2005: “It’s not true . . . I never saw needles. I never saw pills. I never saw
anything . . . The only guys who have put needles in my body are
doctors.”

George Mitchell, you may recall, reported differently:

On the evening of October 4, 2001, Canadian Border Service officers working at Toronto’s international airport discovered steroids, syringes, and clenbuterol in an unmarked duffel bag during an airport search of luggage that had been unloaded from the Cleveland Indians flight from Kansas City. Ted Walsh, the Indians equipment and clubhouse manager who was present during the search, recognized the bag as one that had been sent down to be included with the luggage by Cleveland outfielder Juan Gonzalez when the Indians left Kansas City . . .

. . . Joshue Perez, a member of Juan Gonzalez’s entourage, claimed the duffel bag . . . he told [Border Service Officers] that the bag belonged to Angel (“Nao”) Presinal, Gonzalez’s  personal trainer, who would be arriving in Toronto on a later flight. As soon as he arrived at the hotel, Presinal was detained by law enforcement officers. In an interview at the hotel, Presinal denied that the bag belonged to him and asserted that it belonged to, and had been packed by, Gonzalez.

Gonzalez’s comments about the Mitchell Report: “What does Mitchell know about baseball? He never played baseball.”  Because that so clearly has anything to do with anything.

The Mitchell Report was a severely flawed enterprise, but that’s simply because it was tremendously under-inclusive, gathering only the lowest hanging fruit of baseball’s PED problem. There has been no credible evidence, however, to suggest that anything that was included in it was inaccurate.  More to the point, the story about Gonzalez’s bag has never been refuted, and his relationship with trainer Angel Presinal — a man so steroid-tainted that baseball banned him from clubhouses even while it was turning a blind eye towards the Kirk Radomskis, Brian McNamees and Greg Andersons of the world — is problematic, to say the least.

Gonzalez’s denial should be seen for what it is: a counter-factual public relations exercise. And while we’re talking about him, he didn’t deserve either of his MVP awards.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉