Lefty is named in Canseco book

Updated: February 18, 2005, 8:26 PM ET
Associated Press

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Wilson Alvarez showed up for spring training a little earlier than expected Friday, and almost immediately began fielding questions about steroids.

Wilson Alvarez

That was no surprise considering the 34-year-old left-hander was one of the players Jose Canseco identified in his recently released book as someone who used steroids.

"I never took anything," said Alvarez, a teammate of Canseco's with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1999. "I met [Canseco] in 1999, his first year with the Devil Rays. Two months later, he got surgery on his back. The next year, I had surgery on my arm ... so I never had a chance to get to know the guy.

"People can say whatever they want. It's a free country. All I can say is look at my body. I never took anything."

Alvarez is listed as a 6-foot-1, 255-pounder. But with a bit of a pot belly, he certainly doesn't resemble what's perceived to be the typical steroid user.

Alvarez was one of three pitchers the Dodgers did not expect to report to camp until late Friday or early Saturday. Right-hander Edwin Jackson was expected later in the day.

Only reliever Giovanni Carrara missed the Friday report date, but he notified the team ahead of time that he would not arrive from his home in Venezuela until late Friday, putting him at training camp Saturday morning, when pitchers and catchers work out for the first time.

Position players are scheduled to report Wednesday, but backup outfielder Jason Grabowski is already in camp and will work with the catchers until full-team workouts begin. Manager Jim Tracy said Grabowski could see some time behind the plate in spot situations this year.

Derek Lowe and Brad Penny, counted on to lead the starting rotation, took their physicals Friday.

Lowe played catch with fellow starting pitcher Jeff Weaver for about 20 minutes. Penny, who suffered a nerve irritation in his pitching arm Aug. 8 to essentially end his 2004 season, said he is at about 80 percent and will have a personalized spring training schedule, put together by trainer Stan Johnston in the next few days.

Alvarez may have garnered the most attention Friday because of Canseco's accusations, but Tracy was more interested in his role on the team.

"He's in the mix for the fifth spot [in the rotation]," Tracy said. "He had a good year for us two years ago [6-2 in 12 starts with a 2.37 ERA]. Last season, he came and talked to me and said if he we ran him out there for 25 [starts], his body might not hold up. Right now, we have to see what will work best for the team."

Right-handers Lowe, Penny and Weaver and left-hander Odalis Perez are considered locks for the rotation -- health permitting. Alvarez is one of several candidates for the No. 5 spot.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press