Matthews issue might come to a head

Angels weigh discipline if he refuses to publicly address allegations about growth hormone.

March 09, 2007|Bill Shaikin and Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writers

TUCSON — The Angels are bracing for confrontation with Gary Matthews Jr. and the players' union sooner rather than later, preparing for disciplinary action against the center fielder unless he publicly addresses allegations he received a shipment of human growth hormone.

Angels owner Arte Moreno has said he wanted the matter resolved by opening day.

"I think it's going to come to a head long before then," said a source familiar with the Angels' thinking. "I don't think they're going to stand around and wait for opening day."

The Angels and Major League Baseball officials have discussed at least four possibilities -- suspending him with pay, suspending him without pay, converting his guaranteed contract to non-guaranteed and voiding the contract. He signed a five-year, $50-million contract in November.

If the Angels take any such action, they expect a challenge from the union. They already have been advised that they probably could not succeed in voiding the contract unless Matthews were convicted of a crime. He has not been charged.

Angels spokesman Tim Mead would not discuss what actions the Angels might take -- or when -- if Matthews does not talk.

"The priority of the Angels presently is not on disciplinary action but on communication," Mead said. "The primary concern for this organization continues to be the lack of progress on this matter."

Matthews has refused to discuss the allegations since they surfaced 10 days ago and has hired attorney Robert Shapiro to represent him. In a statement, Shapiro said he believed Matthews had not broken any laws or baseball rules but would not let him speak "while an investigation is ongoing."

Matthews spokesman Terry Fahn said he knew of no plans for Matthews to make a statement.

"Gary is not taking this in stride," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "This is tough on him, and the quicker it gets resolved, the better. Until it starts moving in that direction, everyone is a little frustrated."

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