Gagne apologizes to Brewers but avoids specifics of Mitchell report
PHOENIX -- Eric Gagne, identified as a user of human growth hormone in the Mitchell report, apologized Monday to his new Milwaukee Brewers teammates for "a distraction that shouldn't be taking place."
Gagne also said he feels "bad" for what his family and friends went through in the offseason, and lauded baseball for its efforts to clean the game up from performance-enchancing drugs.
However, the 32-year-old closer, declined to answer questions, never addressed the specific accusations against him and only acknowledged the Mitchell report once, in a separate statement in French to three visiting Canadian media outlets.
According to the Mitchell report, steroids dealer Kirk Radomski told former Sen. George Mitchell he mailed two shipments of HGH directly to Gagne in 2004. According to the report, receipts of FedEx and UPS shipments indicate Radomski received at least one payment from Gagne and two from then Los Angeles Dodgers teammate Paul Lo Duca on Gagne's behalf.
Gagne declined to meet with Mitchell before the release of the report and refused to address it with the media until Monday.
"Since 2004, Major League Baseball has done everything in their power to clean up the game and I think they've done a great job," Gagne said before his first workout with the Brewers. "Right now I just want to go forward. I think Major League Baseball is ready to go forward and, hopefully, all the fans are ready to do that."
I'm here to let you know I feel bad for my family, what they had to go through, and all my friends, especially my teammates here with Milwaukee. That's a distraction that shouldn't be taking place. I'm just here to help the Milwaukee Brewers get to the World Series and playoffs, and that's all I really care about.
That remains to be seen a week after Congress spent four hours questioning Roger Clemens, one of the prominent stars listed along with Gagne in Mitchell's Dec. 13 report to baseball on steroid use.
After a poor second half with the Boston Red Sox last season, Gagne signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Brewers three days before the Mitchell report was released.
"I'm here to let you know I feel bad for my family, what they had to go through, and all my friends, especially my teammates here with Milwaukee," Gagne said a statement. "That's a distraction that shouldn't be taking place. I'm just here to help the Milwaukee Brewers get to the World Series and playoffs, and that's all I really care about."
Veteran starter Jeff Suppan, whose locker in spring training is next to Gagne's, said he didn't believe Gagne would create a distraction.
"Baseball is moving in the right direction. We have a good drug-testing policy. We're moving forward. But this report, people have to answer some questions," Suppan said.
Added third baseman Bill Hall: "Obviously, everybody wants to know the truth, but once you get the truth, stop digging."
Gagne's statement Monday closed the issue with manager Ned Yost.
"We're done with it," he said. "We'll move on. It's not a distraction."
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Gagne, the 2003 Cy Young winner with the Dodgers, joins the Brewers after struggling with the World Series champion Red Sox following a trade from the Texas Rangers July 31. As a setup man for closer Jonathan Papelbon, Gagne had a 9.00 ERA with three blown saves and an opponents' batting average of .350 in his first 15 appearances.
He was on the Red Sox playoff roster but was only used in one-sided games.
The Brewers signed him to replace closer Francisco Cordero, who bolted for division rival Cincinnati with the franchise record for saves.
"You have to understand the psyche of a closing pitcher," Yost said. "They are creatures of their routine and he was totally thrown out of his routine when he went to Boston. We feel he'll be a big pickup.
"We're a young team and it's of the utmost importance that you have a solid closer. There is nothing more demoralizing than losing games late."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press