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Dark Angel (cont.)

Posted: Monday March 5, 2007 4:38PM; Updated: Monday March 5, 2007 5:38PM
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While a couple baseball insiders told me that it's surprising that anyone would buy HGH online since it's fairly readily available at a lot of gyms, Jose Canseco's lawyer, Robert Saunooke, said that he doubted Canseco could order anything over the Internet because "he doesn't know how to use a computer." That claim drew derision from a former teammate of Canseco. "Jose's great with computers," the source said. "He's like a computer engineer."

Matthews and Jerry Hairston, another player reported by SI.com to have been linked to alleged HGH sales on the Internet, both are former Orioles. Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro, of course, famously tested positive for steroids in 2005. One reason that the Orioles didn't pursue Bonds, in fact, was to avoid another potential scandal. It's also interesting to note that like Bonds, both Matthews and Hairston are sons of major leaguers.

It's fascinating that the recent performance-enhancer allegations have created scores of negative headlines for baseball, while the NFL continues to get a free pass. Matthews was a bit player until a year-and-a-half ago and Hairston remains one. But the original Albany Times-Union report about Internet sales of performance-enhancing drugs links Pittsburgh Steelers doctor Robert Rydze to $150,000 worth of HGH. (Rydze denies giving HGH to any professional athletes.) Considering that the Steelers were Super Bowl champions in 2006 and $150,000 buys a lot of HGH, that story should be a much bigger deal than it has been.

Spring trade buzz

Phillies G.M. Pat Gillick showed up at a Blue Jays game last week, then brought his right-hand man Charlie Kerfeld a couple days later. Gillick, who's unafraid to gamble, made the trade of the winter when he acquired righthander Freddy Garcia from the White Sox to bolster his rotation, and there's speculation that he may have interest in talented outfielder Alex Rios. If the Phillies were able to trade for Rios (or perhaps Reed Johnson), they might consider dealing Aaron Rowand to San Diego for Scott Linebrink. While the Phils are comfortable with Tom Gordon as closer, they're concerned about their middle men beyond righty Ryan Madson. The Blue Jays would want pitching in return for the talented Rios, and Philly's top prospect, lefty Cole Hamels, is the logical match. Regardless, it will take a lot more than Jon Lieber -- who has been said to be on the block -- to land Rios.

Around the camps

Dodgers G.M. Ned Colletti scoured teams for a power hitter, and was shocked to hear that some very marginal players (albeit ones with power) are simply unavailable. "We'll find another way," Colletti says. "We'll do it with pitching, speed and defense." While L.A. had a geographic advantage in its pursuits of righthander Jason Schmidt (a former Giant) and lefty Randy Wolf (an L.A, native), it has been a hindrance in Colletti's attempts to land a slugger. While he didn't name which sluggers he sought, outfielder Alfonso Soriano signed with the Cubs (reportedly he wanted to be close to the East Coast) and Carlos Lee with Houston (where he owns a ranch). If only, Colletti says, "we could have moved California to the middle of the country."

Wolf, by the way, gets extra points for going home to be near his mom. And, as Colletti points out, "By taking a one-year deal, Wolf showed how confident he is that he'll return" to form after elbow replacement surgery.

Heard around Florida: Nationals G.M. Jim Bowden is on the hot seat. One rumor suggested that Chuck LaMar, a recent Nats hire, could be a candidate to replace Bowden. But that seems like a stretch, considering LaMar's struggles in Tampa.

Second baseman Brian Roberts is talking to the Orioles about a two-year extension for about $13 million.

Struggling former No. 1 pick B.J. Upton is hearing boos in spring training. The D-Rays are moving him around to different positions (third base, second base, outfield), a good idea in that it'll give them a chance to find his best position or perhaps help rebuild his confidence. It didn't help that he made two errors on Sunday, however.

Righthander Chan Ho Park appears to have the inside track for a spot in the Mets' rotation. New York is likely to be cautious with top pitching prospects Mike Pelfrey and Phil Humber.

Meanwhile, two other great pitching prospects, the Yankees' Phil Hughes and the Reds' Homer Bailey, struggled in their first spring outings.

Pirates outfielder Xavier Nady, who was recently tested for Crohn's Disease -- a chronic digestive ailment -- after suffering from an inflamed intestine, is said to be doing better.

Commissioner Bud Selig will apparently wait a while before deciding whether to follow Bonds on his home run chase. Whatever Selig decides, he's going to take heat, so the delay makes sense. Selig sees no point in committing when Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's career record could still be derailed by slump, injury or indictment.

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