CLEVELAND -- Former big leaguer Jack Clark accused Albert Pujols of taking steroids on St. Louis airwaves, and the Angels' first baseman isn't taking that lightly.
A defiant, ticked-off Pujols issued a statement Friday evening and vehemently denied those allegations from Clark, who said Pujols' ex-trainer used to "shoot him up" with performance-enhancing drugs. In his statement, Pujols also threatened to take legal action against Clark and his employer, WGNU 920AM, for comments he deemed slanderous.
Late Friday, WGNU ownership announced Clark and co-host Kevin Slaten won't be returning to their on-air gig, after just seven shows.
"It is irresponsible and reckless for Jack Clark to have falsely accused me of using PEDs," Pujols' statement read. "My faith in Jesus Christ and my respect for this game are too important to me. I would never be able to look my wife or kids in the eye if I had done what this man is accusing me of.
"I know people are tired of athletes saying they are innocent, asking for the public to believe in them only to have their sins exposed later down the road. But I am not one of those athletes, and I will not stand to have my name, and my family's name, dragged through the mud."
Pujols said he's been tested "hundreds of times" in his 13-year career "and never once have I tested positive."
Clark had a different side.
Last Friday, Slaten, said he long believed that Pujols "has been a juicer," and Clark jumped in and said: "I know for a fact that he was. The trainer that worked with him, threw him batting practice from Kansas City, that worked him out every day, basically told me that's what he did."
That trainer, Chris Mihlfeld, denied those allegations in a written statement earlier Friday, saying he hasn't talked to Clark in "close to 10 years" and that his accusations are "simply not true."
"I have known Albert Pujols since he was 18 years old and he would never use illegal drugs in any way," Mihlfeld wrote. "I would bet my life on it and probably drop dead on the spot if I found out he has. As before, once again both Albert and myself have been accused of doing something we didn't do."
Pujols, who is not known to have failed a drug test by Major League Baseball, stayed back in Southern California to continue rehabbing his injured left foot and isn't with the Angels in Cleveland this weekend.
The 33-year-old slugger -- owed $212 million by the Angels from 2014-21 -- said he's "currently in the process of taking legal action" against Clark and the radio station that has employed him for less than a week.
"I am going to send a message," Pujols added, "that you cannot act in a reckless manner, like they have, and get away with it. If I have to be the athlete to carry the torch and pave the way for other innocent players to see that you can do something about it, I am proud to be that person. I have five young children and I take being a role model very seriously. The last thing I want is for the fans, and especially the kids out there, to question my reputation and character."
Mihlfeld, who has worked as a conditioner for several Major League organizations, was with Clark on the Dodgers in 2000. It was then, Clark said, that Mihlfeld "told me what he was doing with 'Poolie' -- threw him batting practice, worked him out, shot him up, all that stuff."
Clark, who served as the Dodgers' hitting coach from 2000-03, said in a follow-up interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he never actually saw Mihlfeld inject Pujols and that his information came only from what he was told.
Clark also said Mihlfeld asked him if he wanted to take steroids, telling the Post-Dispatch: "He had told me he had done that with Pujols, with steroids, and I really never thought too much about it because steroids were really not on my radar screen at that time."
In 2006, one of the players Mihlfeld trained, Jason Grimsley, admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs and was suspended by MLB, leading to speculation that prompted Pujols to address alleged steroid use.
"Why would I do something like that to my family?" Pujols said then. "Why would I do something like that to God? Why would I do something like that to my team? Just to try to gain some small extra? It's part of what I believe: What you do in the dark will come into the light. I have nothing to fear. I'm just tired of hearing about it."
He echoed that sentiment Friday, starting his statement by saying: "I've said time and time again that I would never take, or even consider taking, anything illegal."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less