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02/28/07 2:25 PM ET
Matthews, Angels discuss steroid report
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Gary Matthews Jr. of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim met briefly with reporters on Wednesday morning, reading a statement in response to a newspaper report linking him to performance-enhancing drugs. "While I'm not in a position to discuss yesterday's story [in the Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union], or answer any specific questions you might have, I can assure you this matter will resolve itself in the near future," Matthews said. "My representative is looking into this matter, but until we receive some follow-up information, I simply cannot answer any questions at this time. I hope you will respect my position and not allow this to become an unnecessary distraction to what our organization is trying to accomplish on the field. Rest assured I will address this matter again at the appropriate time." Matthews is represented by Scott Leventhal and All Bases Covered Sports Management, LLC. The Times-Union reported that federal and state agents raided a Florida pharmacy, arresting its owners on suspicion of illegal distribution of controlled substances. Steroids and human growth hormone were among the substances, according to the report. Matthews, signed by the Angels to a five-year, $50 million free-agent contract over the winter to play center field, was among the pharmacy's customers, the newspaper reported, using unnamed sources. Sports Illustrated reported that, according to documents reviewed by its reporters who accompanied agents on the raid, Matthews allegedly was prescribed and sent Genotropin, a synthetic human growth hormone typically prescribed to children with growth failure. The magazine's report pointed out that the August 2004 shipment was before HGH was a banned substance in Major League Baseball, and that whether Matthews used the substance or not is not part of the investigation. Asked if he knew how his name got involved, Matthews said: "I don't. That's exactly what we're working on right now. Gathering information. I will address the matter again at the appropriate time, and I just wanted to just express that I will come out and talk to you guys about it when the appropriate time comes. I want you guys to respect my position and I don't want to become a distraction for my team and my teammates." Matthews met on Tuesday for about 15 minutes with club owner Arte Moreno, manager Mike Scioscia, general manager Bill Stoneman and vice president of communications Tim Mead. "I like the way he responded," Moreno said Wednesday. "He came in as a gentleman and apologized immediately for any kind of distraction. He said he would try to get it resolved as quickly as possible. "We really don't have a lot of information, obviously. You're dealing with the Players Association. The Players Association, they really want to get more information. We had a meeting really just to basically tell him how we felt -- that, one, we're not going to ask you any questions until you're able to tell us. But we'd like you to be straight up with us. I felt it was important for him to know he has our support. "I like to be proactive and make sure we communicate well. I stressed communication was the most important thing here. As I told him, I said in any of these cases you're guilty until proven innocent. That's not the American way, but sometimes that's however you write it and however the fans respond to it. That's why I think it's imperative to get as much information as we can and be able to communicate with you guys as soon as we can. His agent, the Players Association, they're all trying to communicate and get to the bottom line." Moreno said Matthews was not asked directly if he'd taken performance-enhancing drugs. "I don't think it's our position to do that right now," the owner said. "We did not address it that way. I let Mike take the lead on it. "I think that bridge is going to come eventually but I think as a whole it's more important for him to come to us and explain to us what's going on." Moreno stressed that the use of performance-enhancing drugs is an issue that has needed to be addressed to "even the playing field." "I'm disappointed for all of baseball," Moreno said. "It's not just an individual situation. This thing -- really it's in all sports and all the way down to kids." Scioscia said he wanted to keep specifics of the conversation with Matthews internal. The manager said he was impressed that the center fielder chose to play in an intrasquad game on Tuesday after hearing of the newspaper report. "I don't want to go into what we talked about," Scioscia said. "I can only say there's so little information right now. We wanted to get together, make Gary aware of the article. "I think it's important for everybody to see what comes out. There are a lot of tags you can put on a player in different sports. That's the nature of the media and public perception, and you have to guard against that. Whatever is unfolding, you have to get ready for the start of the season. Gary has to go about his business." Moreno said the organization relied on extensive scouting reports and statistical data before pursuing Matthews in free agency. "He's been tested," Moreno said."We have history within reason. You know all the way through the Minor League system if they've been in trouble. You can get any stats you want now, [including] the meals they ate yesterday." Scioscia conceded that he was caught by surprise. "I've never heard Gary's name along those lines at all," Scioscia said. "I've heard very few names, actually. The media speculates on those lines. I haven't heard Gary's name at all. "It's an important topic in baseball right now and has a lot of interest, like it has the last three or four years when some things have happened. You need to talk about it. But you can't judge a person until you get all the information. There's not enough information to shed the light that needs to be shed at this time. "You have to wait and see what you're dealing with, and right now we don't know."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.