Schilling: Canseco's book 'ruined some people's lives'

Updated: March 19, 2005, 9:38 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Curt Schilling believes that Jose Canseco told the truth in parts of his book and said Saturday that the slugger's career was "a sham" because he used steroids.

The Boston Red Sox pitcher spoke publicly for the first time since testifying Thursday at a congressional hearing on steroids and baseball.

Canseco's lawyer, Robert Saunooke, responded by noting that steroids were not banned by baseball when Canseco used them. Saunooke also questioned the credibility of Schilling, who backtracked at the hearing from his earlier claims of rampant steroid use in baseball.

"Curt's inconsistencies indicate that he has no clue but supports baseball so he can keep his high-paying job," Saunooke said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

In his book, "Juiced," published last month, Canseco named several players, including himself and Mark McGwire, who he said had used steroids.

At the hearing, Schilling sharply criticized Canseco.

"What you saw Thursday, unfortunately, was the result of someone who didn't think a lot in a lot of different instances before he ruined some people's lives," Schilling said Saturday. "That's not to say that he lied. I don't believe his book is all lies.

"I believe that there's some truth in it, but that's for each and every one of us to decide."

Schilling said he was wrong in some of his past comments that indicated steroid use in baseball was greater than what he told the committee.

"I made a mistake," Schilling said. "Being called on that [at the hearing] made me actually start to look at the subject matter instead of guess about it."

But Saunooke said Schilling "was brought to Washington with the sole purpose that he believed [steroid use] was rampant, and he changes his story."

Schilling said Saturday that 98.3 percent of players passed their tests for steroids. Saunooke said "that number is totally misleading" because it was based on a small, random sample.

Schilling also said the public's perception is skewed because of suspicions about high-profile players such as McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, and Canseco's statement that he used steroids.

In 1988, Canseco became the first player to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in the same season.

"He admitted to being a cheater. His whole career was a sham," Schilling said. "It makes me appreciate the fact that Alex Rodriguez is more of a genetic freak than we ever thought because he's truly the only 40-40 guy to ever play the game."

Canseco won the AL MVP award in 1988 when little attention was paid to steroid use in baseball.

Saunooke said that if Canseco's career is a sham, then "what does that say about Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire? If his is a sham, so are theirs."

Schilling said he didn't know if McGwire was treated unfairly at the hearing. McGwire declined several times to say whether he had used steroids, while three other witnesses in Washington, Sosa, Schilling and Rafael Palmeiro, said they hadn't.

"Mark is a friend," Schilling said. "He made decisions based on advice and I can only speak about my situation and how I would have acted. It's tough when you have a guy sitting there refusing to talk and the guy sitting next to him absolutely denying" steroid use.

"As a person, not as a player, I felt bad for him to have to go through that."

But Saunooke noted that Canseco's book put the spotlight on steroid use.

"Had he not done that, baseball would have continued to live in this web of secrecy," he said.

Schilling said the issue hadn't been given proper attention in past years.

"For 17 years there has been this elephant in the room that has been danced around by a lot of you [reporters] as well as [players]," Schilling said. "The same players you guys are vilifying and crushing now are the same guys you touted to the world for the last 15, 20 years with the same suspicions that we had."

Schilling knows what he would have done had Canseco alleged that he used steroids.

"I would have issued a press release to deny it and call him a liar," Schilling said, "and I would have sued him."

He also said he had never seen steroids in pill or liquid form or seen a player inject himself and doesn't know which players used them.

Under the current program, players are tested randomly and a first offense is subject to a 10-day suspension or a fine.

But Schilling said players can decline to take a test and can use a masking agent that would need only an hour to work so that a test would be negative even if a player had used steroids.

"Those should be addressed and cleaned up now," he said. "I believe there are holes in the agreement that need to be fixed."

He also said every major league player that doesn't cheat agrees with that.

"I don't think you'll hear one ounce of complaint from the players association about closing any loopholes Congress feels are in our tests as long as they are valid and they can be closed in a valid manner," Schilling said.

"I don't think there can be any question about the fact that things will change."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press