Angels' Ervin Santana worked with controversial trainer

The right-hander acknowledges having worked with Angel Presinal, who has been linked to steroids and the Alex Rodriguez scandal. 'We just did exercises,' Santana says.

February 23, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

TEMPE, ARIZ. — Ervin Santana acknowledged Sunday that he worked with Angel Presinal, the controversial personal trainer from the Dominican Republic who has been linked to steroids and the Alex Rodriguez scandal, during the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

The Angels' right-hander said he severed ties with Presinal after 2006, but not at the request of Major League Baseball, which banned the trainer from clubhouses in 2001.

"I have a guy in my hometown who works with me now," said Santana, a native of San Cristobal, which is about 20 miles southwest of Santo Domingo, the capital.

Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero and former Angels pitcher Bartolo Colon also have ties to Presinal, whose name appeared in the Mitchell Report because of an October 2001 incident at a Toronto airport in which he and former Texas slugger Juan Gonzalez were linked to a gym bag containing steroids.

Presinal worked with Colon, the 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner, from 2003 to 2006.

Though Guerrero has declined comment about Presinal, Santana said he saw Guerrero working out during the winter at Presinal's gym in Santo Domingo "for a few days, that was it."

Presinal reportedly accompanied Rodriguez, who admitted injecting performance-enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003, during the 2007 season but has denied giving him steroids. Santana said he had no reason to think Presinal was involved with steroids.

"We just did exercises," said Santana, who worked with Presinal during the regular season and off-season and credits him with helping him to develop into one of baseball's best young pitchers.

"He motivates you. He likes to work hard. He's like me, he doesn't like to lose."

Colon, in a 2006 interview, spoke highly of Presinal.

"There's a guy who pushes me to the limit and understands my body more than anybody else," he said. "Whatever happened in the past with him, I'm not going to judge him."

General Manager Tony Reagins said he has not advised players to avoid Presinal.

"I haven't had one discussion with any player regarding this person," Reagins said. "I've never seen him in my life."

Caged up

After watching Guerrero take batting practice on the main field the first day of camp, the Angels sent the slugger to the cages behind the right-field wall to resume his daily workouts.

The reason? Guerrero's natural tendency to swing for the buttes beyond the left-field fence might put too much of a toll on his surgically repaired right knee.

"He doesn't need batting practice right now, he needs repetitions to get his hands and his trunk where they need to be," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "We'll be able to test his knee more under controlled conditions, and then get more aggressive as he makes the turn into playing games.

"There's a logical, common-sense progression that needs to take place, not only in the batter's box but in the outfield running, and we're going to err on the side of caution."

The Angels project Guerrero to begin playing in exhibition games by the second week of March. The hope is he will be ready to play the outfield on a regular basis, not designated hitter then.

"There's nothing to indicate he won't get there, but we'll adjust if we have to," Scioscia said.

Tight but all right

Joe Saunders is experiencing a little "tightness" in his throwing shoulder, but the left-hander described the feeling as "normal spring-training soreness."

Saunders, who went 17-7 with a 3.41 earned-run average and made the All-Star team last season, doesn't believe the setback will affect his spring preparations.

"It happens every year, something gets sore, nothing is hurt," said Saunders, who has been throwing since January. "Last year it was my elbow. This year it's my shoulder's turn, I guess."

A day of rest

Kelvim Escobar had a minor setback, but it had nothing to do with his surgically repaired throwing shoulder. The right-hander, who has begun throwing off a mound, suffered a minor left calf strain during fielding drills and was held out of workouts Sunday.


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