'Comments hurt my feelings,' outfielder says
The Cleveland slugger became the latest player to refute allegations made by his former teammate, saying Wednesday he has never used performance-enhancing drugs and that Canseco lied about introducing the two-time AL MVP to steroids in the early 1990s.
"It's not true. ... I never saw needles. I never saw pills. I never saw anything. ... The only guys who have put needles in my body are doctors," Gonzalez said.
In his new book, Canseco claims he educated Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro about steroids after being traded to Texas in 1992. Rodriguez and Palmeiro also have denied using performance-enhancing drugs.
Gonzalez, joined at a news conference by agent Alan Nero, said his comments following a workout at Chain of Lakes Park would be his last about Canseco, who said injected Gonzalez and others with steroids.
"I feel sorry for Canseco. ... His comments hurt my feelings," Gonzalez said, adding that he's willing to take a test to prove he's clean. "People who know me a long time in this game [know] I've never had problems with anybody. ... I have a clear mind and clear heart."
Gonzalez said he is not angry with Canseco and he has no plans to pursue legal action.
"If you are going to consider legal action, you really have to determine how you've been harmed, and I think that's a difficult thing to do," Nero said. "Juan's attitude the whole time is he feels bad for Jose and just hopes that he's going to be OK. ... There's no anger or retaliation in this man's mind."
Asked if he feels there are a significant number of baseball players who have used steroids, Gonzalez replied: "I don't know about the rest of the people. I know about myself."
One of baseball's most feared hitters before injuries limited his production the past three years, Gonzalez has played a total of 185 games the past three seasons. He appeared in just 33 in 2004, when he batted .276 with five homers and 17 RBIs.
The Indians protected themselves financially by giving Gonzalez an incentive-laden contract that provides him an opportunity to make up to $2.55 million.
Gonzalez has a $600,000, one-year contract and has the chance to earn $1.65 million more based on plate appearances and $300,000 based on time on the active roster.
The Indians would like Gonzalez, who has 439 homers, to be their regular right fielder. He could restore some of the pop that's been missing since he batted .325 with 35 homers and 140 RBIs to help the Indians make the playoffs in 2001.
"I believe he has a complete understanding of what he needs to do earn a spot on this club. And, I think it's safe to say that everybody's rooting for him," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "There's no denying what his ability is. If he's healthy, and he's motivated like I believe he is, he's going to have an impact on our ballclub."
Gonzalez is excited about being back in Cleveland and confident that his injuries, including the lower back problem that sidelined most of last year, are behind.
"The last three years is history. This is '05," Gonzalez said. "I'm here, ready to work hard and help this team."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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