Kent: Old-timers deserve scrutiny, too

HOUSTON -- Jeff Kent knocked over a few monuments to make a

In a newspaper interview, Kent wondered aloud whether some of
the game's hallowed past stars -- such as Lou Gehrig or Babe Ruth --
might have used performance-enhancing drugs.

He said Friday he wasn't accusing anyone of anything, just
merely noting that there's no way to know either way.

"People are so pinned on the era now versus the era then,"
Kent said. "How do we know about then? Do we really know about
then? I think we're starting to understand and learn more facts
about now, so everybody's trying to relate the records broken, the
way ballplayers are bigger and badder and better than ever now, but
how do we know about then?

"We never really tested, so that was my reference. I apologize
to all the Babe Ruth fans out there, but geez, I was just trying to
make a point."

Kent's initial comments on the subject appeared in Friday's
editions of the Houston Chronicle, when he asked whether it can be
proven that past players didn't use some steroid-like substances,
such as equine steroids.

The issue has loomed over baseball since 5-7 percent of the
players anonymously tested last season had positive results. That
triggered the start of testing with penalties this year. A first
positive test would result in treatment and a second in a 15-day
suspension or fine of up to $10,000.

Also, Barry Bonds, Kent's former teammate on the San Francisco
Giants, and New York Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi were called
in December before a federal grand jury investigating the Bay Area
Laboratory Cooperative.

Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, admitted to giving
steroids to several players and was one of four men with ties to
the BALCO charged this month with distributing steroids.

Kent calls the problems a "pure embarrassment" for baseball,
though he also lamented the rampant speculation about who might be

"I think that's wrong for the media to point fingers at one
big-chested guy versus a skinny guy: `He did it, he didn't do
it,'" Kent said.

Then again, he acknowledged it doesn't add up when almost every
player denies taking such substances.

"For people to sit back and say, 'I didn't do it,' well hell,
there's about 10 percent of the players who are doing it, and
that's a shame. There should be more integrity in this game, and
integrity is that you don't cheat."

And for those Ruth backers who might have gotten offended?

"Wah," Kent said.

The Astros' spring rotation will look just like the regular
season. Manager Jimy Williams said Roy Oswalt will pitch March 5
against the Indians at Winter Haven, followed March 6 by Andy
Pettitte at home against the Braves and March 7 against the Pirates
at Bradenton ... The Astros donned jackets as they warmed up Friday
on what they hope will be the chilliest day of camp with
temperatures in the 50s. Conditions were expected to become more
Florida-like over the weekend.