Steinbrenner: Agent, not court, silencing Giambi

Updated: February 26, 2005, 6:25 PM ET
Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees owner George Steinbrenner blames Jason Giambi's agent for not allowing the slugger to address questions about his testimony to a grand jury that he used steroids.

"The court told Jason that he could say anything he wanted to," Steinbrenner said Saturday. "The court gave him permission. And Arn Tellem says no, he doesn't. He doesn't say anything."

"I just don't like the guy," Steinbrenner added, regarding Tellem.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported in December that Giambi told a federal grand jury in 2003 that he had used steroids. Giambi apologized during a news conference in New York on Feb. 10, but didn't say why he was apologizing.

We're pretty much behind him. I hope that he has a good year.
Steinbrenner said of Giambi

Tellem said Giambi has been requested by authorities not to discuss his grand jury testimony.

"Jason Giambi may be called as a witness in these matters, and the prosecutor, given that he might called as a witness, they asked us not to comment," Tellem said. "And we intend to cooperate."

Steinbrenner arrived at Legends Field on Saturday morning and passed Tellem, who was discussing contract extension talks involving Hideki Matsui with reporters, in a golf cart en route to an elevator.

When asked about Matsui as he was entering the elevator, Steinbrenner said he would like for the outfielder to remain with Yankees before adding "I don't like the agent." He also used a four-letter profanity in reference to Tellem.

Steinbrenner later said he shouldn't have used the profanity.

George Steinbrenner
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezSteinbrenner wishes Giambi well, but can't say the same for his agent.
"I just don't think he's a good man," Steinbrenner said. "That's all. I didn't mean to say what I said. But I'm not happy with him. I don't like him."

When asked if it had anything to do with Giambi, Steinbrenner said "that's part of it."

Giambi has $82 million remaining on a seven-year, $120 million deal signed before the 2002 season, but Steinbrenner said he doesn't want to get out of the contract.

"I'm not saying that," Steinbrenner said. "We're pretty much behind him. I hope that he has a good year."

Tellem said that before Giambi's current contract expires, he will be able to address the matter in greater detail.

"When he's in position to talk more fully, he will," Tellem said. "When that is, I don't know."

Steinbrenner watched Saturday's workout on the field. At one point, he shook hands and gave Giambi a hug.

"He was supportive," Giambi said. "He said 'Hey, you look great. Keep you head up and keep going.' I just told him I wasn't going to let him down."

Tellem said he doesn't take Steinbrenner's comments personally, and that they won't affect talks on a new deal for Matsui, whose $21 million, three-year contract ends after this season.

"It's no factor," Tellem said. "I have the highest respect for George Steinbrenner. It's hard for him, he's the owner. I understand how he feels. I just think he would like to have everything behind us. We all would."

Matsui has a clause in his contract that requires the Yankees to put him on waivers unless a new contract is agreed to by Nov. 15. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Tellem started contract talks Saturday.

"The one thing we all know is that he wants to stay and we'd like to keep him," Cashman said. "Just because we started, it doesn't mean we're going to finish it before the season. We're not in a hurry to get it done. We're more in a hurry to get it done correctly."

The 30-year-old outfielder was a three-time MVP in Japan's Central League before joining the Yankees in 2003. He hit .298 with 31 homers and 108 RBIs last season after batting .287 with 16 homers and 106 RBIs in his first season in New York.

"He'd like to play as long as possible, and as long as possible with the Yankees," Tellem said. "He really wants to stay here and hopefully finish his career here. He pointed out that he played 10 years with Yomiuri and ideally, if he could stay healthy, be able to play 10 years with the Yankees before he retires."

Steinbrenner hopes this doesn't impact the discussions.

"I love Matsui," he said. "We definitely want him. That will be Cashman's job. He'll do it. I'm just sorry the same agent represents him."

Matsui doesn't forsee any problems.

"I trust Arn, and at the same time respect Steinbrenner as well," Matsui said through an interpreter. "That part of the relationship is a separate issue. As a player, there's nothing more than be praised like that, by the owner. I'm very happy and I'm very honored to be looked at that way."

Manager Joe Torre declined to address the issue, but said Steinbrenner "certainly has the right to think and say what he wants."

"The one thing we always talk about, and the players know this, is that George is the boss," Torre said.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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