Reaction to Report swift and varied

Reaction to Report swift and varied

From club executives to players and their agents, reaction throughout baseball was swift and varied on Thursday afternoon to the results of a 21-month investigation by a panel headed by former Sen. George Mitchell into steroid use in Major League Baseball.

From one former general manager who called the 311-page Mitchell Report "a punch to the gut" to a club player representative who said the names of 89 former and current players singled out "were going to come out sooner or later," people in the sport tried to deal with the glare of an unwelcome spotlight.

The harshest light shone on Roger Clemens, the 354-game winner implicated along with pal Andy Pettitte through former Yankees strength and conditioning coach Brian McNamee.

Rusty Hardin, Clemens' lawyer, called his client's inclusion in the Report "very unfair."

"He is left with no meaningful way to combat what he strongly contends are totally false allegations," Hardin said. "He has not been charged with anything, he will not be charged with anything and yet he is being tried in the court of public opinion with no recourse. That is totally wrong. There has never been one shred of tangible evidence that he ever used these substances and yet he is being slandered today."

On the advice of agent Randy Hendricks, Pettitte withheld immediate comment.

Even before taking the opportunity to wholly read the Report, many agreed with the author's view of it as a "necessary step" to "letting go of the past and looking to the future."

Atlanta club president John Schuerholz hailed the release of the long-awaited Report as daybreak for a new era of the sport, saying, "We can look forward to a new day in baseball when we can focus on and enjoy this great game and the talented players who play it."

"For too long," he added, "all of us -- players, teams, media and especially our great fans -- have had to hear and read constantly about the issue of use and abuse of performance-enhancing substances. We believe the Mitchell Report will allow us to move forward and continue the progress we have seen since Major League Baseball's drug-testing program began in 2002."

"When you look at the events of today, it's really something that was done for a positive impact -- not just in baseball but in society," said Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak. "And I think you watch that press conference and you can look at what they were trying to address with today's youth, that's the important message -- that they want these role models to be clean."

Echoing those perspectives, San Diego CEO Sandy Alderson said, "We ... hope that Sen. Mitchell's Report provides an opportunity for all who love baseball to refocus their attention, with the greatest confidence possible, to the game on the field."

Braves veteran Chipper Jones was among those questioning the body of evidence contained in the Report.

"I was a little surprised at the amount of hearsay that was in the report," Jones said. "If your name was brought up in this report, the rest of your career, you are going to hear about it, and that's unfair if your name was included without rock-solid proof. There's just too much gray area."

Texas player representative C.J. Wilson said, "It's too bad that some guys were named, because some of it was, 'He said, she said.' But realistically, it's good that we can finally get this chapter finished. The closer we get to a level playing field through testing, the better it will be for everybody --- players and fans."

Added Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot: "I wish that if guys were going to be named that there was better evidence. I don't think it was fair to the player. Just because there's a signed check doesn't mean anything was taken."

Yet, St. Louis club president Mark Lamping gave some indication of the breadth and extensiveness of the field work done by Sen. Mitchell and his aides.

"For the record," Lamping said, "we turned over more than 20,000 pages of records, conducted numerous rounds of interviews with key Cardinal personnel and complied with every request made by Sen. Mitchell and Commissioner Selig. Many facets of our organization were in play, including administration, policy, travel, security, human resources and, of course, baseball operations."

Responding to inquiries regarding the appearance in the Report of nine prominent Yankees past and present, New York spokesman Howard Rubenstein said in a brief statement, "We are reviewing the report and have no comment."

Cubs GM Jim Hendry said, "I was grateful that none of the present Cubs were listed or involved, and other than that, I have nothing to say about it."

Said Toronto outfielder Vernon Wells, the Blue Jays' representative to the Players Association: "My reaction is pretty much, what's done is done. I'm in no place to judge what anybody else has done. They're grown men, and they make their own decisions. When you do things that are illegal, people are going to find out about it.

"Obviously," he added, "those guys have to deal with the repercussions of what happens after this report is out."

Those facing the fallout include two of Wells' teammates, catcher Gregg Zaun and third baseman Troy Glaus.

"I'm not going to view them any differently," Wells said. "They're both my teammates, and we're all playing for one common goal, to win. Whatever choices they made in the past, that's on them."

Cleveland's Casey Blake reacted on two levels.

As the Indians' player rep, Blake said, "I figured the names were going to come out sooner or later. It's disappointing. It's tough for me to sit here and say that names shouldn't have been mentioned or the investigation shouldn't have taken place, because I'm sure the fans and the public want to know if somebody is not playing by the rules."

But as an individual player, he said, "Other than that, maybe I'm just too selfish of a guy to care too much about it. I just go about my business and take care of what I can take care of. But it will be interesting to see how people react to this."

Seattle club president Chuck Armstrong expressed disappointment "that any names of former Mariners players are named in the report," alluding to Ismael Valdez, David Segui, Josias Manzanillo, Glenallen Hill, Ron Villone, Ryan Franklin, Todd Williams and Fernando Vina -- all of whom played with at least four clubs during their careers.

Mark Teahen, Kansas City's assistant player representative, questioned Mitchell's call to toughen baseball's drug policy and punishment for violations.

"For the most part, I don't really understand his idea that there needs to be stricter policies," Teahen said. "In the past two years, there have only been two positive tests per year, so it's doing its job. It's cleaned steroids out of baseball.

"A lot of his ideas on what he said we should add to the drug-testing policy, I felt like we already had. ... I think the current policy is working, and the past is the past."

The Pirates had one of the most elaborate club reactions, with team president Frank Coonelly saying, "The Pirates have fully supported the Commissioner's efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing substances from our game. We understand the seriousness of this issue, not only for our organization and our players but for the entire game of professional baseball. The use of performance-enhancing substances goes to the core of the integrity of the game and cannot be tolerated.

"We view the release of the Senator's findings as a positive step forward for the game," he added. "The Pirates do not and will not tolerate the use of any substances banned by baseball's comprehensive drug-testing program by our players at any level, and we will continue to go to great lengths to educate our players on the dangers of using such substances."

Otherwise, for the most part, clubs had a tentative reaction.

The Detroit Tigers, whose Gary Sheffield was one of nine players implicated by the BALCO portion of the Report, said, "Now that the Mitchell Report has been released, the Tigers will take time to review its contents completely. The eradication of performance-enhancing substances in baseball and protecting the integrity of the game are the ultimate goals of the industry."

"For some time now, we've known that this day was coming," said Royals club president Dan Glass. "The lifeblood of our game is its integrity, and restoring any integrity that might have been lost during this period in baseball should be everyone's priority.

"Today's report is the culmination of an extensive investigation into past improprieties within our game," he added. "Our goal today must be to move forward under the current policies in place and regain the trust of our fans, assuring them that this is part of our past and not our future."

Outfielder Nook Logan, who was not tendered a 2008 contract by the Nationals on Wednesday, was "not talking about" being one of the 53 players implicated by former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski.

"You have to talk to my agent," said the 28-year-old Logan. "I just play baseball."

Newly appointed Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker shrugged off the appearance of left-hander Mike Stanton's name in the Report.

"It doesn't change anything for me," Baker said. "I don't know if [the Report] is accurate or not. I'm not here to judge anybody. Who am I to judge anybody?"

Baker, reacting in the immediate aftermath of Mitchell's news conference and prior to having read the Report, added, "I don't have much to say. Not a lot to be said."

Former National League batting champion and current Braves coach Terry Pendleton said, "I think it's sad. If any of it's true, I think it's sad."

Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez -- who as a star first baseman was a central character in the infamous 1985 Pittsburgh cocaine trials that involved numerous ballplayers -- said, "I'm glad it's exposed. It's important that it's all out there. I don't believe they'd put those names out there if they didn't have strong, convincing evidence. I'm glad there are specific names. People should know."

Yet another former big leaguer, current ESPN broadcaster Oreste Destrade, who last played in the Majors in 1994, perhaps provided the day's most optimistic review, despite calling it "an ugly day for baseball."

"But the purity of baseball has not been lost," Destrade added. "The essence of baseball is still pure."

Tom Singer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.