PEABODY -- Speaking to reporters for the first time since his abrupt departure from Florida Marlins camp a month ago, Jeff Allison denied telling a longtime associate that he had entered a drug rehabilitation program over the winter for treatment related to his use of the drug OxyContin, as reported in a Globe story.
"I never said anything about anything like that," said Allison, who declined to respond directly to questions about whether he had a drug problem. "I don't know who this longtime associate is."
The former Peabody High School ace pitcher, who was placed on baseball's restricted list by the Marlins May 6 after he left camp without permission, spoke while attending Peabody's 10-3 victory over Methuen in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Division 1 North tournament.
In a May 7 story, the Globe quoted a longtime associate of the pitcher as saying that Allison had told him he had entered an outpatient rehabilitation program this winter for his use of OxyContin, an addictive painkiller. In addition, a baseball industry source close to the situation said Allison had failed at least one drug test, and perhaps two.
Asked yesterday why he left camp, Allison said, "I'm not going to get into that right now."
Yesterday marked the second straight Peabody High tournament game that Allison attended; he was also on hand for the victory over Lowell Saturday. Allison said he sees no reason to be reclusive.
"I'm not afraid to talk," he said. "I'm not hiding. I'm just here to watch the game. At first, I did mind going out in public, but I know who my real friends are and I don't worry what people say about me."
Allison, 19, was taken by Florida with the 16th overall pick in last summer's amateur draft and received a $1.85 million signing bonus.
After this spring's developments, he did confirm that the Marlins asked him to return a portion of the bonus, which he did.
The hard-throwing righthander, who sported a diamond earring, said he has continued working out at home, getting his throwing in at a local park. He said his friend and high school teammate Artie Generazzo, who also attended yesterday's game, has been his catcher.
The irony of discussing his situation on draft day was not lost on Allison, who called the day "weird" for him. He offered advice for this year's draftees -- which included his former teammate, current Peabody ace Ryan Moorer, selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 13th round -- saying that if they are unsure about turning pro, they should go to college.
But Allison said he did not regret his decision to pass up a scholarship to the University of Arizona to sign with the Marlins.
"I think I made the right decision," he said. "I love the game and I'll be down there [Marlins camp] soon."
Despite his current status, Allison said he still believes that he'll be in the big leagues.
"The people that do know me are behind me 100 percent, and I appreciate that," he said. "Everything's going to be all right."