At least Grimsley gave D'backs a quick exit

June 11, 2006|By COMPILED FROM INTERVIEWS AND OTHER NEWSPAPERS' REPORTS.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have it easy. Easier, anyway, than the 2005 Orioles.

When former Oriole Rafael Palmeiro failed his drug test last year, he was still a member of the club. He came back from his suspension 10 days later while his teammates tried to avoid the spotlight as best they could. One prominent veteran walked past the media throng that day and hummed the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey theme song.

Later, the club had to deal with questions about Palmeiro and his infamous earplug decision in Toronto during his first post-suspension road trip. Then there was another wave of controversy in September, when it was learned that Palmeiro said he might have received a tainted supply of vitamin B-12 liquid from teammate Miguel Tejada. By then Palmeiro was at home in Texas, but the damage in the clubhouse was done.

The Diamondbacks experienced a similar situation last week when news broke that reliever Jason Grimsley - a former Oriole who publicly supported Palmeiro last year - was being investigated by the federal government for allegedly purchasing human growth hormone. Furthermore, according to a federal affidavit, Grimsley fingered big league users of hGH, steroids and amphetamines. Tough times in Arizona, where the surprising Diamondbacks are in the thick of the National League West race.

But at least Grimsley raced out of Dodge. He asked for and was given his release Wednesday, to the relief of some Diamondbacks. He hugged some of his teammates after Tuesday's game, and his locker was empty by the time reporters were allowed into the clubhouse Wednesday.

"The best scenario was for him to move on," said Diamondbacks veteran outfielder Luis Gonzalez. "We have a good team here. The last thing we needed was something like this. The last thing we needed was the extra attention. But nobody in here has anything to worry about."

Although they know the issue isn't going away, the Diamondbacks hope the national focus will.

"Now that he is gone," said catcher Johnny Estrada, "I don't know what the hoopla is going to be all about."

Just an assistant?

When the Washington Nationals hired former Orioles manager Davey Johnson to be a special assistant to general manager Jim Bowden, the speculation immediately began. Would Johnson, who has 1,148 wins, replace his old Orioles teammate, Frank Robinson, as the manager?

"No, Frank Robinson is the manager," Bowden said. "[Johnson] is not going to manage the Washington Nationals. So nobody should read into this that that's the case."

Johnson, 63, is expected to help evaluate the club's minor leaguers before the July 31 trade deadline. Robinson learned of the move from a reporter.

Quick hits

Former Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek says his 18-year-old son, Kyle, who was selected in the first round (18th overall) by the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, is better than he was coming out of high school. ... Los Angeles Dodgers Opening Day catcher Dioner Navarro, on the disabled list with an arm bruise, is on a minor league rehabilitation assignment. But look for Navarro, 22, who lost his starting job to rookie Russell Martin, to be a trade chip in July. ... Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee (broken right wrist) is out of his cast but still can't swing a bat.

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