Morse suspended for steroids he says he took in '03

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Seattle Mariners rookie Mike Morse was
suspended 10 days Wednesday for violating baseball's steroids
policy, and said he was still being punished for an "enormous
mistake" he made in 2003.

Morse became the ninth major-league player penalized under the
sport's tougher drug rules. He hit a go-ahead single in the seventh
inning for a 3-2 win over Oakland, and on Wednesday the grievance
by the players' association to overturn the suspension was denied
by arbitrator Shyam Das.

"This result is unfair and unfortunate. It punishes Michael
Morse again for conduct for which he has already been punished,"
said Michael Weiner, the union's general counsel. "The PA does not
believe the parties ever intended for the Basic Agreement to compel
such a harsh result."

Morse, 23, was batting .287 with three home runs and 23 RBI in
209 at-bats since being called up from Triple-A earlier this
season. The infielder-outfielder was acquired last season in the
trade that sent pitcher Freddy Garcia to the Chicago White Sox.

"The players' association negotiated for a clean slate when a
player is promoted from the minor leagues to the major leagues.
That clean slate, however, is a two-way street," said Rob Manfred,
executive vice president of labor relations in the commissioner's
office. "If minor-league discipline does not count in determining
the severity of the penalty to be imposed for a violation of the
major-league program, then such discipline cannot immunize the
player from discipline under the major-league program."

In a statement before Wednesday's game against the Athletics,
Morse apologized to "the fans, my teammates, the Mariners
organization, baseball and to my family," and he offered an

"Back in November 2003 when I was 21 years old, I made an
enormous mistake in my life: I took steroids while in the minor
leagues," he said. "My thigh muscle, which I had previously torn,
had never healed and I was scared that my career was over. I was
desperate and made a terrible mistake which I deeply regret.

"In May 2004, I was punished and suspended, which I deserved,
for my mistake. I embarrassed myself, my family and my team. I am
responsible for the mistake of taking steroids and the positive
result was not due to some over-the-counter supplement, protein
shake or tainted test."

Morse said the steroids, however, remained in his body and that
he was again suspended in July 2004 while in the minors. He said
those remnants resulted in another positive test this year, and he
appealed those results.

"I am troubled that I will be suspended for the third time
despite the fact that the scientific evidence supports that I kept
my promise that I would never use steroids again," he said. "Even
the [arbitration] panel states in its written decision that 'the
panel recognizes that this result may be viewed as unfair to
Michael Morse.'

"I find it unfair that I am being punished three different
times for making the mistake of taking steroids in the 2003
offseason. At least there is some solace in the fact that the
scientific evidence supports that I kept my promise that I would
never use steroids again," his statement said.

Later, Morse met with reporters and said, "I know what I did
and I was wrong."

"I was a man about it and I confronted it. I came forward and
served my time," he said. "Now it's twice for the same thing. Now
I get this again two years later. It's just unfair."

"I'm not lying and I'm not hiding anything," he said. "I'm
for testing. I'm for kicking out steroids."

Earlier this season, Mariners pitcher Ryan Franklin and Seattle
outfielder Jamal Strong were penalized for violating the steroids

"We've had two other people at the major-league level and this
is no different," Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said.
"We're not happy about it."

Asked whether he felt badly for Morse because of the background,
Bavasi said: "Everyone has natural feelings and given the
circumstances, sure."