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Angels consider Matthews ban

'Aggressive' Moreno wants answers from $50M man

Posted: Monday March 12, 2007 12:11PM; Updated: Monday March 12, 2007 5:49PM
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Gary Matthews Jr.'s silence on the HGH allegations has angered Angels owner Arte Moreno.
Gary Matthews Jr.'s silence on the HGH allegations has angered Angels owner Arte Moreno.
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MESA, Ariz. -- Gary Matthews Jr. had the misfortune to be linked to HGH as a member of Arte Moreno's Angels. If his circumstance occurred while he was under the employ of many other organizations, or perhaps even any other organization, the consequences -- should the allegation be proven correct -- would likely be less severe.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig spoke Sunday to SI.com about Angels owner Moreno's ultra-tough anti-drug stance, saying, "Arte Moreno, all during the whole drug thing ... I didn't have any more aggressive, supportive owner."

Moreno, who has built a model organization in Anaheim with a keen eye on public relations, has been pressing Matthews for answers since SI.com reported his involvement more than two weeks ago. Moreno is said by people in baseball to be embarrassed by the situation. That's especially the case since Matthews was the Angels' biggest winter acquisition, a $50 million free-agent signing, after Moreno had promised Angels fans a "major" move would be made.

The next move they make also could involve Matthews. The team is said to be pondering contingency plans in case Matthews isn't with the club. "Until we have all the information we can possibly have, and the longer it goes on, we have to prepare for the unknown," Angels VP Tim Mead said. "We certainly hope it resolves itself. But there are a myriad of scenarios. Arte Moreno, [GM] Bill Stoneman and [manager] Mike Scioscia have to get the club ready for the season."

Angels people have set a deadline of Opening Day for the situation to be resolved, as signals are being sent that Moreno doesn't want anyone known to be connected to performance enhancers representing his club when it counts.

The Angels have weighed several possible remedies, depending on what more is learned. They include a suspension for Matthews and even the drastic measure of whether to try to void his $50 million contract, although it's a long shot they could do that successfully. It's possible they might even consider carrying him on the active roster without playing him, yet another measure that would surely be challenged by the players' union.

Matthews once enjoyed an impeccable reputation in the game. Likewise, the Angels, one of baseball's best organizations, have not had a single player tied to illegal performance enhancers.

That was before SI.com printed bombshell reports tying Matthews and four other major leaguers and ex-major-leaguers to Internet HGH sales. According to the report involving Matthews, a shipment of HGH was sent to the outfielder in 2004.

Beyond Matthews' employer, one other difference between Matthews and the four additional players linked to the case is that Matthews matters. Three of the other four players are inactive, and the fourth, Jerry Hairston Jr., who has denied involvement, is only a non-roster player with Texas.

Meanwhile, the Matthews' situation remains messy, dicey and potentially heart-breaking. Moreno is pressing Matthews for answers, answers that Matthews isn't ready to give. Selig said on Sunday, "Arte's position remains my position. I wish Gary would make a statement; Arte Moreno is absolutely correct."

When Selig and Moreno met Saturday in Tempe, it was said to be an emotional meeting. The two men hugged. But if this is upsetting for Moreno, it has to be that much more so for Matthews.

"I'm very concerned," Selig said Sunday, adding that he couldn't comment further. "The investigation is under way. I want to see what happens with the results of the investigation."

Citing the same reasoning, Matthews hasn't spoken about the controversy. But with Moreno's feelings starting to become known, Matthews' agent, Scott Leventhal, gave a statement Sunday to SI.com, which said, "Gary regrets the distraction the story has caused the Angels' front office, manager and his staff, his teammates and fans. However, given the ongoing investigation, he simply cannot discuss the matter until appropriate to do so. Gary sincerely apologizes for the distraction and is determined to resolve this issue in a timely matter."

Leventhal declined further comment.

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