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Carew Calls for Steroid Testing

Baseball: Hall of Famer says too many players want to take shortcuts, although he doesn't name names.

July 04, 2002|DAVID CARRILLO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rod Carew, a Hall of Fame player and 10-year major league batting instructor, said baseball should test for steroids because "if you want the fans to respect what's left of the game's pureness, you're going to have to start testing."

"It's unfortunate that players have to use steroids to produce big numbers," Carew said by telephone from his South Bay home, during an interview this week about an upcoming Angel promotion. "They don't have to do that.... But too many players today want to take shortcuts."

The topic of steroids is taboo with some current players and many former hitting stars, but Carew didn't balk when asked about allegations made recently by Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti, former league most valuable players, that steroid use in baseball was widespread.

"You have to understand that cheating in baseball has been a big part of the game," Carew said. "It's unfortunate, but it always will be."

The reason cheating has gone well beyond corking bats, scuffing balls, stealing signs and tipping pitches is simple, Carew said: "With the kind of money out there, guys are going to do anything to make millions.

"No one wants to be left behind, especially when steroids will give an average player with no power an opportunity to easily hit 25-30 home runs.

"As for the superstar, well, they will hit 50 to 70."

Carew, who played 19 years in the majors and was with the Angels from 1979 until his retirement in 1985, said he began to suspect steroid use in the early 1990s, when he was a batting instructor with the Angels.

He said he couldn't fathom how players he'd seen weighing 175 pounds during spring training could have bulked up 25 to 35 pounds in three months and were hitting towering home runs.

"It's impossible to get that big and muscular in such a short period of time without using some type of enhancement drug," Carew said. "But after just seeing a couple of guys, I started seeing more and more guys looking like bodybuilders and not baseball players."

Carew was the batting instructor for the Angels from 1992 through '99, then spent the 2000 and 2001 seasons in the same capacity with the Milwaukee Brewers. He said he never knew of any Angels or Brewers using steroids while he was coaching with those teams. He also said he didn't know of any players who used steroids during his playing time in the majors.

Carew, a .328 hitter, was a lanky 6-footer weighing 180 pounds for most of his career with the Minnesota Twins and Angels. He hit only 92 home runs, getting many of his 3,053 hits on bunts, choppers and line drives.

"Just my forearms were big because I wanted to be able to fight off pitches inside and hit them for hits," said Carew, who won seven American League batting titles. "But during my days with the Angels, we had guys like Reggie Jackson and Brian Downing who were somewhat big, but they did it the right way and didn't take steroids. They put in long hours in the gym to build up strength and I respect that."

Carew said he knows many players who would agree with his call for testing, but, he added, "It's unlikely to happen because of how strong the players' [union] is right now."

As for that upcoming promotion, bobble-head dolls in Carew's likeness will be given away at Edison Field before Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Such dolls are all the rage in baseball giveaways nowadays, and Carew is happy that at least that part of the game remains pure.

"We all know they aren't taking any steroids," he said of the dolls.

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