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.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.