Singleton relieved to get addiction struggles off chest
With Astros' support, first baseman embraces responsibility, accountability this spring
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Astros first-base prospect Jon Singleton, who told The Associated Press earlier this week he was a drug addict, said Tuesday it was important for him to open up about his problems to let people know what he's been through the last few years.
Singleton, who was suspended for 50 games to begin last season after a second failed drug test for marijuana, told the AP in a story published Monday he enjoyed smoking marijuana and had spent time in rehab last year. He also said he battled alcohol addiction last year.
"It definitely wasn't easy for me [to open up], so it's definitely nice for people to understand the story of what I went through," Singleton said prior to the Astros' Grapefruit League game against the Mets at Tradition Field.
The top first-base prospect in baseball as ranked by MLB.com, Singleton admitted to using marijuana since he was 14 years old and tested positive in June 2012 while he was playing in the Minor Leagues. He quit using for the rest of the season, but started again that fall and failed a second drug test in December, leading to the suspension. He subsequently spent one month in rehab.
"It got to the point I was depending on it, because I was using it so long and in such a large quantity," Singleton said. "It's definitely something that I had difficulty going through a day without using it. I was depending on it, definitely."
Singleton says he hasn't smoked marijuana in about a year, and while he has an occasional drink, he doesn't drink in excess. He said he's not worried about suffering a relapse.
"There are times in my mind where I think about certain scenarios and if I were to go back and do the things I was doing, but I think about the consequences I had to deal with after the fact, and that's always a deterrent for me not to go back to that lifestyle," he said.
When Singleton finally got on the field last season, he didn't play well in the Minor Leagues, which led to anxiety and depression. Instead of marijuana, he turned to alcohol and said he would wake up with a hangover each morning.
He played most of last season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, hitting .220 with six homers and 31 RBIs in 73 games. Singleton is in camp this year, competing for the starting spot at first base.
"We had constant talks with him every day and he was trying to get himself together, but every day he came to the ballpark and he worked and did everything he was supposed to do," Oklahoma City manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "I know he was trying to buy into the program that was set up by the Astros."
DeFrancesco said he kept in communication frequently with the Astros' front office regarding Singleton last season.
"Just making sure he's on the right track," DeFrancesco said. "At times he looked good, and at times he looked a little shaky. Every day he came to the ballpark, he was in the lineup and ready to work. Responsibility and accountability is what we're asking for, and he did that."
Singleton said his support network is deep. He wouldn't say exactly who he's been leaning on, but expressed gratitude to the Astros for their support. Manager Bo Porter met with Singleton late Monday after the story broke.
"I definitely feel relieved that people understand the difficulties I had," Singleton said. "They finally understand the whole story behind it. I definitely feel relieved about it."
Porter commended Singleton on getting the issue off his chest and trying to move forward.
"I felt it was really a true sign of maturity, and from an organizational standpoint, we are completely behind Jonathan and believe that he's gotten himself right off the field and is going to pay big dividends on the field as well," he said. "I'm very proud of him."
Porter said he's noticed a difference in Singleton this year. The strength and conditioning coaches have told Porter that Singleton's body composition and his performance during conditioning drills had improved.
"That was a true sign he worked his tail off and he came here with a mindset of 'I've put my situation behind me and I'm ready to move forward,'" Porter said. "He's been very social with his teammates and more outgoing."
Now it's up to Singleton to stay clean and perform on the field. The Astros have tabbed him as their first baseman of the future, and it's likely he will wind up in Houston at some point this year. Each day brings a new challenge, on and off the field.
"To be honest, day to day is difficult," he said. "I'm just going out there and trying to be the best person I can be, and as long as I make good decisions, I feel like I can put myself in good positions to stay out of trouble and stuff like that. If I put myself in a scenario where I might jeopardize myself then, of course, there's going to be difficulty there. As long as I keep a good head on my shoulders, I'll be good."