Steroid allegations draw Palmeiro's ire

Updated: February 9, 2005, 5:19 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro on Monday denied Jose Canseco's assertion in his forthcoming book that he used steroids while the two were Texas Rangers teammates.

Bash Brothers
Jose Canseco's claims of steroid abuse by former teammates including Mark McGwire, far right, have stirred outrage in the baseball world.

In book excerpts published by The New York Daily News on Sunday, Canseco claims he introduced the performance enhancers to Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez, and Juan Gonzalez when Canseco joined the Rangers in 1992.

"I categorically deny any assertion made by Jose Canseco that I used steroids," Palmeiro said in a statement. "At no point in my career have I ever used steroids, let alone any substance banned by Major League Baseball. As I have never had a personal relationship with Canseco, any suggestion that he taught me anything, about steroid use or otherwise, is ludicrous.

"We were teammates and that was the extent of our relationship. I am saddened that he felt it necessary to attempt to tarnish my image and that of the game that I love."

Rodriguez and Gonzalez said that they had not seen the book.

"I'm in shock," Rodriguez told El Nuevo Dia newspaper for Tuesday's editions in Puerto Rico. "He is saying things that aren't true, and it hurts me a lot that he would say things like that because I've always had a lot of respect for him, and I've even helped him many times when things weren't going well for him."

Gonzalez's agent, Alan Nero, said, "Our immediate reaction is we feel sorry for Jose, that he felt he had to do this for whatever reason. And we feel badly for everyone he implicated in this.

"Juan has never used steroids and has never been in favor of their use. And, in fact, in 2000, when Major League Baseball did its survey, Juan was in favor of testing and was one of only two players that volunteered to be tested at that time," Nero said.

Orioles owner Peter Angelos also issued a statement Monday supporting Palmeiro and said he's willing to offer any legal assistance that Palmeiro would need to clear his name.

"The Orioles are solidly behind Rafael Palmeiro and have absolute confidence in him and in his denial of the Canseco story," Angelos said. "The Orioles will do everything we can to be of assistance to Raffy in meeting these allegations that have no foundation. We know him well and the kind of athlete he has been and the vigorous manner in which he has trained. He is a highly professional athlete."

According to the Daily News' account, Canseco writes in "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big," that he personally injected Mark McGwire with steroids; that he saw McGwire and Jason Giambi inject each other; and that President Bush "had to have been aware" of rampant steroid use among the Rangers when he owned the club in the early 1990s.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said he spoke to Bush about alleged steroid use.

"If there was, he was not aware of it at the time," McClellan said.

"He has recognized, for some time now, that steroids is a growing problem in professional sports, particularly Major League Baseball," he said. "That's why the president has made addressing the issue a priority in his administration."

Canseco's long-awaited book was scheduled for release by Regan Books on Feb. 21. But the New York Times reported Monday night that the book will be released Feb. 14 instead.

Parent company HarperCollins posted a book description on its Web site that said Canseco "made himself a guinea pig of the performance-enhancing drugs" and added the 1988 AL MVP "mixed, matched and experimented to such a degree that he became known throughout the league as 'The Chemist.' "

McGwire, who has long denied steroid use, said in a statement to the Daily News: "I have always told the truth and I am saddened that I continue to face this line of questioning. With regard to this book, I am reserving comment until I have the chance to review its contents myself."

Ex-A's pitcher Dave Stewart couldn't say one way or another whether Canseco's claims are true.

"I could never say 'Josie' is a liar," Stewart told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I don't like his work ethic, and I don't like him as a teammate. But one thing I can't say about him is he's a liar.

"As far as what Josie's saying, I can't deny it or verify it. I'm not going to pretend it didn't happen because I don't know. We weren't in the same circles, but I'd have to say he definitely knows what's going on in his circle. Nobody I associated with on the team was a steroid user [among the players Stewart mentioned: Carney Lansford, Rickey Henderson, Dave Henderson and Dennis Eckersley].

Terry Steinbach, McGwire's roommate in 1987 when the pair were A's rookies, said McGwire worked out to build his physique.

"Mark wasn't one of those guys who all of a sudden one offseason got so big you couldn't recognize him, like they say about steroid users," Steinbach told the Chronicle. "Mark loved to lift weights. ... He was in the gym regularly.

"Jose? No, at least not in the gym at the Coliseum or the gyms set up for us on the road. He was phenomenal in '88. Up to that point, he showed up on time and did his drills. All of a sudden, he didn't do the extra work in the outfield, and it showed. It frustrated us as teammates. It was frustrating that 24 guys marched to the same beat and Jose didn't."

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who managed both players with the Oakland A's during the late 1980s, defended McGwire in an interview with The New York Times on Sunday.

"I am absolutely certain that Mark earned his size and strength from hard work and a disciplined lifestyle," La Russa told the newspaper. "When he was a kid in 1987, he hit 49 home runs. It's a real shame. For some people, this is going to put a stain."

Canseco hit 462 home runs in a major league career between 1985 and 2001. He played seven full seasons for the A's before being traded to Texas in '92. He also played for Boston, the Yankees, Toronto, Tampa Bay, Oakland again, and the White Sox.

McGwire's 16-year career ended in 2001. He finished with 583 home runs, hitting 196 in his four full seasons with St. Louis following a July 1997 trade to the Cardinals. In 1998, the year McGwire and Sammy Sosa took their swings at Roger Maris' record 61 homers, McGwire finished with 70 to Sosa's 66.

Three seasons later, Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs, a record that had been called into question long before Bonds, according to leaked grand jury testimony from the BALCO hearings, acknowledged this winter that he unknowingly used steroids.

A few years ago, Canseco claimed that 80 percent of major leaguers had taken steroids. Last spring, he said: "I think the numbers may have changed. Who knows? Maybe the numbers have diminished."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE