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Matthews not in violation of drug policy

Matthews not in violation of drug policy

Insufficient evidence was found that Angels outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. was in violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, and he will not be sanctioned by MLB, the Office of the Baseball Commissioner announced on Thursday.

Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig handed out 15-day suspensions to the Orioles' Jay Gibbons and former Angels outfielder Jose Guillen, now with the Royals, for violating the program. Those suspensions will go into effect at the start of the 2008 season.

Also found not to be in violation of the program were two other former Angels, third baseman Troy Glaus and pitcher Scott Schoeneweis, and Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel. Glaus is with the Blue Jays, Schoeneweis with the Mets.

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Reached by phone, Angels spokesman Tim Mead said: "We continue to support Major League Baseball's drug policy and programs and commend the efforts behind it. We addressed the Gary Matthews situation in Spring Training. He handled our request, and we respect the time and effort the Commissioner's Office put forth in its investigation.

"As we did in Spring Training, we move forward."

Matthews' name surfaced on Feb. 27 in a newspaper report of an investigation of a drug lab in Mobile, Ala. He was alleged to have bought human growth hormone via the Internet during the 2004 season while playing for the Texas Rangers.

Two weeks after the story appeared, on March 14, Matthews released a statement at the Angels' Tempe, Ariz., training facility denying use of HGH.

"I have never taken human growth hormone (HGH) -- during the 2004 season or any other time," Matthews said.

Angels owner Arte Moreno had been urging Matthews to speak about the issue, as the player's representatives told him not to discuss it. Moreno was relieved when Matthews stepped forward.

"As an organization, we felt it was important for Gary to address the media regarding his situation," Moreno said in a club-issued statement. "Today he honored that request and issued his own statement. Now, it's time for us to continue our preparation and focus on the season ahead."

Drug Policy in Baseball

Matthews hasn't been charged with a crime and hasn't failed a drug test under the auspices of the drug policy that is managed jointly between MLB and the players association. HGH is among the drugs now outlawed in the policy, but it was only added to the banned list beginning with the 2005 season.

Signed by the Angels after the 2006 season to a five-year, $50-million contract, Matthews was a force in the Angels' drive to the American League West title with his superb play in center field and versatile offensive production.

Plagued late in the season by a knee injury, Matthews' average slipped to .252 by season's end. He delivered 18 homers and 72 RBIs, scoring 79 runs and stealing 18 bases, while playing 135 games in center field.

Aggravating the knee in the final week of the regular season, Matthews was sidelined during the AL Division Series, and the Angels were swept by the eventual champion Red Sox.

Matthews will be adjusting to a new role in 2008 as an all-purpose outfielder with the acquisition of free agent Torii Hunter to play center, where he claimed the past seven Rawlings Gold Glove Awards for the Twins.

Manager Mike Scioscia said he has discussed his plans with Matthews and that he "is on board" even though his preference is to play center on a regular basis.

Matthews will play all three outfield spots and also get time as a designated hitter. Scioscia plans to keep Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero, Garret Anderson and Matthews all actively involved and playing a full slate of games.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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