Gibbons says he's set for steroid scrutiny

He's proud of his power but leery of accusations

May 31, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

With nothing to hide in his baseball past, Jay Gibbons still senses that he'll be more closely scrutinized by baseball fans the rest of this season. He doesn't welcome the attention.

They won't be crunching his power numbers, wondering why his home runs have tapered off the past month. They won't be critiquing his defense in right field, which was supposed to be a weakness until he proved otherwise.

Sitting on the Orioles' clubhouse floor before last night's game, applying black polish to the white edges of his shoes, Gibbons wore a sleeveless T-shirt that exposed his massive biceps. When leaning back to support his weight, it appears some life form is trying to poke through his skin, like a scene out of the movie Alien.

Many athletes bend the rules. Gibbons chooses steel.

He's proud of the results obtained as an avid weightlifter, and leery of the potential accusations directed at him.

When former major-league infielder Ken Caminiti claimed in this week's Sports Illustrated that at least half of today's players are on steroids, following Jose Canseco's assertion that 85 percent use the drugs, Gibbons prepared for the backlash. He's a very large, very defined target for anyone with a suspicious nature.

Gibbons insists that he's clean, and more than a little offended by the doubters who take Caminiti and Canseco at their word.

"Obviously, people are going to weed out the bigger guys on the team and make assumptions. Great. Thanks a lot. They don't see the work I do after the games and before the games," he said.

Gibbons said he was accused of steroid abuse in the minors while playing in the Toronto Blue Jays' system, but at least he had the results of drug tests to prove his innocence. No such testing exists at the major- league level.

"I'd get tested a few times a year. The Blue Jays did random testing," he said. "It's just disappointing that a couple guys say 85 or 50 percent. How do you come out with that number? That's just a total guess and it's ridiculous."

Count Gibbons among the Orioles who want testing for steroids included in the next collective bargaining agreement. "I think that would be the best thing to do. Maybe have a couple random tests a year. I guess that's the only way to get rid of it."

If Caminiti's estimate is viewed as a reach within the industry - he tried to soften his stance yesterday on ESPN Radio - Canseco's claim is nothing short of outrageous.

"If you take everybody at their word, then you're going to be fooled a lot of times," said manager Mike Hargrove. "If it was 85 percent, I'd be very shocked and surprised, but I don't know. I don't know that Jose knows. I don't know that he's gone out and taken an official poll. I think it's probably just as much of a guess on his part as it is on anybody else's part."

"I know of maybe three guys," Gibbons said, "and I'm not talking about on this team. It's a personal preference, what you want to do to get here. It's your body, but it's definitely taking a risk."

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