Gary Matthews Jr., the Angels outfielder whose name was the first to surface earlier this year in the probe by an Albany, N.Y., district attorney into the illegal sales of performance-enhancing drugs, met with attorneys for the Commissioner's office on Wednesday, an MLB official confirmed. Matthews' name surfaced on Feb. 27 in an investigation of a drug clinic -- Applied Pharmacy Services in Mobile, Ala. -- for selling human growth hormone illegally. Matthews' alleged involvement with the drug dates back to procuring it via the Internet during the 2004 season when it wasn't among the substances banned by MLB's joint drug policy. Testing for performance-enhancing drugs didn't begin at the Major League level until 2003, and HGH wasn't placed on the banned list until prior to the 2005 season.
After a 16-day delay and a tumult during Spring Training, Matthews released a statement saying that he never used the drug, which is illegal to obtain even with a prescription except for dwarfism or stunted growth in children. "I have never taken HGH -- during the 2004 season or any other time," Matthews said. The club accepted his explanation. Matthews joins St. Louis outfielder Rick Ankiel, Baltimore outfielder Jay Gibbons and Toronto third baseman Troy Glaus, who met with representatives of the Commissioner's office in September because their names were associated with the Albany probe. Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi also was interviewed after comments about his own steroid use appeared in print earlier this season. Under threat of suspension, Giambi agreed to testify before George Mitchell about his public comments and is thus far the only active player to appear before the ex-Senator's committee. Jose Guillen, the free-agent Mariners outfielder whose name was publicly exposed on Tuesday in the probe, also has been asked to meet with MLB officials. And Paul Byrd, the Cleveland pitcher whose name was published on the morning of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, is also slated to appear later this month. The Albany DA has spent the last two years investigating the sale of performance-enhancing drugs via southern clinics and pharmacies doing business on the Internet. The list of current and former Major Leaguers whose names have been associated with the Albany probe has now reached nine. On Tuesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that aside from Guillen, retired third baseman Matt Williams and ex-pitcher Ismael Valdez also bought performance-enhancing drugs from a Florida clinic. The Matthews interview comes just as Mitchell and his committee are in the final phases of putting together an extensive report on MLB's so-called steroid era. Mitchell was charged by Commissioner Bud Selig with conducting the investigation nearly 19 months ago. Selig said that he expects that report to be available by the end of the year.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.