Robinson says new policy too soft

Updated: February 18, 2005, 5:32 PM ET
Associated Press

VIERA, Fla. -- Hall of Fame slugger and Washington Nationals manager Frank Robinson believes steroids have created a "cloud over baseball" and that new penalties against steroid use aren't strong enough.

Frank Robinson
APRobinson has served as baseball's chief of on-field operations and discipline.

In his most extensive comments to date on the topic, baseball's No. 5 all-time home run hitter said Friday many fans are willing to ignore steroid use because they enjoy the "home runs, the RBIs, the big explosion offensively'' of the last few years.

"But I'll tell you one thing,'' Robinson added. "The players that play this game do care, and the players that have played this game care. I'll tell you that.

"It's a cloud over baseball right now about steroids,'' Robinson said before a Nationals spring training workout. "My take on that is that it doesn't belong in the game.''

Robinson has been reluctant to comment on the steroid issue, and he refused to cite individuals -- "I don't know if Barry Bonds is on steroids. Do you?'' -- but he is clearly concerned about the blanket suspicion cast over all players, especially those who have bulked their bodies.

"It's like when they had testing, back when I was playing, for certain drugs,'' Robinson said. "A lot of players took it as an invasion of privacy to be tested. I said I have nothing to hide. I've love to be tested. I wish we all would be tested because that would clear up the ones that are innocent. When you throw a blanket over everybody, that's mud on me, and I'm clean.''

Under new standards announced in January, players who test positive for steroids for the first time will be suspended for 10 days. It will require four positive tests to get a one-year ban. A fifth positive is subject to discipline determined by the commissioner.

"I just think the penalties are not strong enough,'' Robinson said. "First offense, 10 days? Five times? You'd have to be awful stupid.''

For decades, Robinson's 586 home runs ranked fourth all-time -- behind Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays -- before he was passed by Bonds. Robinson didn't link the home run record directly to steroids, but he openly wondered whether the recent power explosion will dwarf his accomplishments.

"Probably before I take my last breath, I'm going to be about 99th on the list,'' Robinson said. "And I'm afraid people are going to say 'Frank Who?' It's going to be such huge numbers up there at the top, they're going to say, 'You must have been a singles hitter that hit a few home runs.' That's the thing that's going to happen to this game.

"I wish I had stayed fourth. It's a nice ring to it. You're up there with the elite. You're up there with the top guys in baseball, but as you slip people have a tendency to ignore you or forget about you. It's not a nice ring, 11th or 12th. We think of maybe top 10, but even in the home run category we've never thought about 10. It's always basically top five because there was such a gap.

"Fourth. Fourth. Fourth. I kind of got used to that. And now fifth, it just sounds a little odd.''

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press