Guillen: Players know what they're using
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jose Guillen believes his fellow Latin American baseball players are making lousy excuses for testing positive for steroids.
The Washington Nationals outfielder said despite challenging language barriers, Spanish-speaking players know exactly what they're putting in their bodies.
"I don't buy that, that they didn't know what they were doing," Guillen told The Associated Press on Sunday. "They knew what they were doing. There's no excuse for them. We're all grown enough men and we all know what we're doing."
Some Latin American players say baseball's steroids policy in the United States can be confusing, leading them to misunderstand which substances are banned, including over-the-counter supplements bought back home.
More than half the players suspended for positive tests at both the major and minor league levels were born in Latin America, according to a review of their birth places by The AP. By comparison, about a quarter of players on opening-day major league rosters were born in Spanish-speaking countries.
"They got caught," said Guillen, a former member of the Oakland Athletics who was born in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. "Unfortunately, it's been Latin guys. But I don't buy into it (excuses)."
Three of the five players suspended under the big league policy were born outside the United States: Minnesota reliever Juan Rincon (Venezuela), Tampa Bay outfielder Alex Sanchez (Cuba) and Texas pitcher Agustin Montero (Dominican Republic).
At the minor league level, 24 of the 47 players suspended this year (51.1 percent) were born in Latin America, with 11 from Venezuela, 10 from the Dominican Republic, two from Mexico and one from Puerto Rico.
Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Jose Valentin, born in Puerto Rico, has said that some Latin players probably throw away important papers in their lockers during spring training because they can't read them.
Guillen came to the United States at age 19 and couldn't speak a word of English. He was determined to learn, and still encourages his friends and countrymen to do the same if they want to play professional baseball.
"They say we need translators," Guillen said. "I came to the States and spoke no English, but I took it upon myself to learn. This is an American game, not a Latin game. You need to learn to speak the language."
Guillen, who turns 29 on May 17, has emerged as a leader for Washington. He is batting 14-for-40 (.350) with nine RBI over his last 12 games.
Joining the Nationals was a fresh start for him. He was suspended the last eight games of the regular season and dropped from the Anaheim Angels' playoff roster last fall after he threw a tantrum in the dugout and clubhouse when he was removed for a pinch-runner Sept. 25.
"It's going well," Guillen said.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press