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Giambi to meet with Mitchell

Yankees first baseman is expected to discuss his history regarding steroids, but he won't answer questions about other players.

June 22, 2007|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

Under threat of a 50-game suspension, Jason Giambi agreed Thursday to talk with baseball investigators about "my past history regarding steroids."

The New York Yankees first baseman will not answer questions about other players, but he will become the first player known to discuss reports of his steroid use with former Sen. George Mitchell, the leader of baseball's steroid investigation. The Yankees have agreed not to try to void Giambi's contract based on whatever he might tell Mitchell, according to a high-ranking baseball source.

After Giambi told USA Today last month that "I was wrong for doing that stuff" and said "everybody ... should have apologized" for the steroid era, Commissioner Bud Selig ordered Giambi to meet with Mitchell or face discipline. Selig was livid, according to another source, that Giambi appeared to suggest others should apologize for his actions.

"I have never blamed anyone nor intended to deflect blame for my conduct," Giambi said in a statement. "I alone am responsible for my actions and I apologize to the commissioner, the owners and the players for any suggestion that they were responsible for my behavior."

Selig took Giambi's comment about "doing that stuff" as an admission of steroid use and threatened the 50-game suspension mandated to players who test positive for the first time. Giambi's meeting with Mitchell has not yet been scheduled, and Selig refused to rule out the possibility he might suspend him anyway.

"I will take Mr. Giambi's level of cooperation into account in determining appropriate further action," Selig said in a statement.

Selig would be unlikely to suspend Giambi so long as he is forthright with Mitchell, a baseball official said. Mitchell's investigation, now 15 months old, has been hampered by a lack of cooperation from players. Selig called Giambi's cooperation "an important step forward in Senator Mitchell's continued efforts to provide me with a comprehensive report."

In 2003, Giambi told a federal grand jury he had used steroids and human growth hormone, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Giambi subsequently apologized at a news conference, without saying what he was apologizing for.

Baseball did not test for steroids until 2003 and did not impose suspensions for a first positive test until 2005. Michael Weiner, general counsel for the players' association, said in a statement two weeks ago that Selig had no grounds for punishment if Giambi decided not to meet with Mitchell. The union would have challenged -- and remains ready to challenge -- any suspension.

"Rather than subject himself, his family, and the Yankees to a protracted legal battle, Jason has made a very difficult decision that we believe will lead to a positive resolution of this matter," Arn Tellem, the agent for Giambi, said in a statement.

Giambi, 36, is in the sixth year of a seven-year, $120-million contract. He is on the disabled list because a foot injury.

"As I have always done, I will address my own personal history regarding steroids," Giambi said. "I will not discuss in any fashion any other individual. My hope is that this meeting will serve as a positive step, as all parties involved seek the best approach in dealing with the issue of 'drugs in sport.'

"That has always been the intent behind all of the comments I have made on the subject and it remains so to this day."

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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