Wells harshly critical after six-game suspension upheld
BOSTON -- Red Sox pitcher David Wells lashed out at Bud Selig after losing his appeal of a six-game suspension on Monday, drawing denials and apologies for the blustery lefty's charge that the commissioner dragged his feet on steroids.
"I've been tested three times this year, but it's obvious that there's guys getting away with doing it," Wells said during a pregame news conference. "And he's not doing a thing."
Wells' comments drew a quick response from the players' union, the commissioner's office and an apology issued by the Red Sox.
"The comments made by David today regarding the commissioner of baseball do not in any way reflect the views of the club," the Red Sox said in a statement. "The club believes the commissioner has demonstrated visionary leadership and integrity, and we recognize that his contributions to the game have been enormous. Thus, we apologize to the commissioner."
Angry over the denial of his appeal, Wells accused Selig of retaliating for past criticism and discipline czar Bob Watson of "turning against the players." He expanded his complaints to include Selig's role in declaring the 2002 All-Star game a tie and for the commissioner's role in the sport's steroid scandal.
Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president of labor relations, reminded Wells that the processes were negotiated with the players' union.
"David Wells has once again created a distraction with a series of ill-informed and ill-conceived comments," Manfred said. "The appeal process for on-field discipline has served the industry well for decades. Mr. Wells' dissatisfaction with his appeal says more about his poor behavior than it does about the quality of the appeal process."
Wells was ejected in the seventh inning of Boston's July 2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays after an argument in which he was accused of making contact with two umpires.
Wells acknowledged swearing but said he did so quietly and to himself. He denied spitting on or "beaking" any umpires and said there would have been no problem if second base umpire Chris Guccione wasn't reading his lips or third base umpire Angel Hernandez hadn't intervened to restrain the fuming pitcher.
"I guess that gives umpires a reason to do whatever the hell they want to do," Wells said, adding that he thought he was pushing teammate Kevin Millar, who was trying to restrain him. "It's a sad day for me. I don't get it. I'm very bitter about the situation."
Wells, who was scheduled to start Friday, will instead pitch Sunday.
"I don't know what the point was even having a hearing," Wells said. "They said I clearly bumped him and sprayed him with spit. That's coming from a guy that works for the commissioner, so what can you do?"
A spot starter will take Wells' turn and the rest of the rotation will be pushed back a day, manager Terry Francona said.
"Not having a day off, I have no problem with that anyway," Francona said, declining to elaborate on the suspension, secure in the knowledge that Wells would let his opinions be known. "David is going to have a whole lot to say, I'm sure."
He sure did.
Of Watson, a respected former Astros All-Star, Wells said: "I don't even know why he played, because it's like he's against the players." But Wells' choicest comments were reserved for Selig and baseball's handling of Rafael Palmeiro's suspension following a positive test for steroids.
"In the Palmeiro case from what I understand from a few sources, [Selig] said, 'Let's just wait until the Hall of Fame [induction] is over and then we'll suspend [him].' That's what I heard," Wells said. "He probably did it because he didn't want the Hall of Famers or electees to have to answer questions about steroids because it's a distraction."
Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days on Aug. 1, a day after induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y., following a grievance to overturn the suspension that was denied by arbitrator Shyam Das.
Michael Weiner, general counsel of the players' association, denied Wells' accusation.
"The Palmeiro grievance was processed completely consistent with the basic agreement," Weiner said. "There were no delays. The arbitration panel issued a ruling as soon as it was prepared to do so."
Manfred also said Wells didn't know what he was talking about.
"Mr. Wells' statement that the discipline was delayed is pure fiction," Manfred said. "With respect to the larger issue of steroids, Mr. Wells is obviously unaware that commissioner Selig has proposed a tougher steroid policy for the industry and that such a policy can be imposed only through collective bargaining."
Despite the apparent anger, sometimes salty language and occasional trouble with the facts -- he said Watson had left baseball's employ -- Wells said he was holding back his true feelings.
"I'm really holding back because I've got a lot of negative things to say," he said. "I can't wait to win the World Series and have Bud Selig come up there [with the trophy]. I really can't. Who knows what will come out then."
The 42-year-old lefty has an incentive in his contract that pays him $300,000 for start Nos. 21-30; he has already made 24. Wells said he could miss out on one payday because of the two-day delay, but the shifting also puts him on schedule to face the rival Yankees twice in September instead of possibly missing them altogether.
"Maybe it's a blessing in disguise," he said. "I can't miss a game or I'm out a big chunk of money. I wouldn't mind losing that money if I was in the wrong. But I look back at the video and I wasn't wrong."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press