David Ortiz has always spoken with a refreshing candor* about the steroid issue — including about his own use or non-use, as you might remember:
"I tell you, I don't know too much about steroids, but I started listening about steroids when they started to bring that [expletive] up, and I started realizing and getting to know a little bit about it. You've got to be careful. I used to buy a protein shake in my country. I don't do that anymore because they don't have the approval for that here, so I know that, so I'm off buying things at the GNC back in the Dominican Republic.
"But it can happen any time, it can happen. I don't know. I don't know if I drank something in my youth, not knowing it."
Today, Ortiz spoke for the first time after good friend Alex Rodriguez admitted he'd used steroids from 2001-03, saying MLB should replace random testing with leaguewide testing three or four times per year, and that positive tests should result in a season-long ban.
* For whatever candor is worth when the topic is steroids. A-Rod seemed pretty candid when he spoke to Katie Couric, as well.
The rest of his comments:
"I think that the A-Rod situation, it was a little bit tough for the game," Ortiz said. "Talking about the best player all the way around. At the same time, people have to give the guy credit because he came out with what he said at the point of his career where he had done it all. On top of that, that was what? Six years ago? The guy has put up numbers his whole career. It was one thing that he said that caught my attention was that he was young and at the time. . . . sometimes you make the wrong decision like he did. He's been playing clean and he's still producing. He's still been the best player in the game. If I'm a fan and I had to judge the guy, I would put that in the past and move forward. The guy, he works hard, man. He's still doing his thing. He's still got nine more years on his contract where he's definitely gonna do some damage still."
"Like I said, this game has been hurt, a lot," said Ortiz. "This is not a players' game, this is not a team game, it's a family game. We have a lot of families that live for this game. We have a lot of families that enjoy these games and people who bring their kids to watch these games. And I don't think this game can take any more. More than 80 or 90 percent of the players [are] playing clean [now]. We're going through a tough situation all the way around, our soldiers fighting in Iraq, and this game is a distraction for people and the American family. I would like to see some changes and let us just play the game. Guys like myself, I will do what ever it takes to make this game get better. But not everybody's on the same page, you know what I mean? The game has changed a lot. Just play the game. The game is tough enough. These things we heard from Alex, that was the last thing you want to hear about the baseball game. The guy came out — and he didn't wait until they took him to the Congress and all that. He was honest."
"There are a lot of players who have been to federal court being judged like they just killed somebody," Ortiz said. "I don't think that is supposed to be happening. If you admitted you were using the stuff, don't use it any more. You know it's not good for you. You know it's not good for the game and lets move on, you know what I mean? All the drama of bringing guys to court and acting like they're serious criminals, it doesn't look good for the game. What is happening right now is something that happened in the past. It's not something that is happening right now."
"I think you clean up the game by the testing. I test you, you test positive, you're going to be out. Period," Ortiz said. "If I test positive using any kind of banned substance I'm going to disrespect the game, my family, my fans and everybody. And I don't want to face the situation so I won't use it. I'm sure everybody is on the same page."
"From what I've seen right now from the testimony that Alex gave, I would say it was very low the percentage that wasn't using it. Like he said, that's what was going around the league at the time. What else do you want? But in 2004 when they came out with the testing, I guarantee the percentage has been going down."
One thing I'm surprised no one asked, especially given Ortiz's previous comments about the GNC products from the Dominican, is whether he's one of the 103 other names.