Baseball notebook

Washington used cocaine

Rangers manager failed test in ’09

Rangers manager Ron Washington apologized yesterday for what he insists was one-time cocaine use. Rangers manager Ron Washington apologized yesterday for what he insists was one-time cocaine use. (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)
Associated Press / March 18, 2010

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Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington admitted he made a “huge mistake’’ when he used cocaine and failed a Major League Baseball drug test last season.

In his first public acknowledgment, Washington apologized yesterday for his behavior, eight months after he told team president Nolan Ryan, who turned down the manager’s offer to resign.

“It almost caused me to lose everything I have worked for all of my life,’’ Washington said. “I am not here to make excuses. There are none.’’

Washington said he used cocaine only once and called it “stupid’’ and “shameful.’’

The failed test first was reported by

Washington said he told the commissioner’s office and Rangers officials about using cocaine before he had a routine drug test.

“He came forward and said he would resign,’’ Ryan said. “He understood the consequences. We had a lot of discussions and a lot of soul-searching on it. He stood up to it. We felt like he was sincere and forthright. We are very disappointed by this. We are upset we were put in this position.’’

Washington met with his players earlier in the day and told them about testing positive in July.

“He was very emotional, you could tell that he’s a broken man from this one bad choice he made,’’ said Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton.

Hamilton has a long history of drug abuse and was suspended for the 2004 season when he was in the minors for Tampa Bay. The All-Star is the most prominent player in the last decade to be disciplined for a so-called recreational drug.

Hamilton has been outspoken about his crack cocaine habit. He said there were no parallels between his problems and Washington’s admission of one-time use.

“I was addicted to drugs. All I cared about was getting more and using more drugs. I didn’t care who I hurt,’’ Hamilton said. “This was something of a weak moment, a decision of choice. Our stories are nothing alike.’’

Six-time All-Star Michael Young said his teammates were behind their manager.

“Based on the kind of person that Wash is, the kind of person that we know him to be, we support him 100 percent,’’ Young said. “This isn’t going to be any kind of distraction in terms of us getting ready for the season.’’

Washington has been subject to increased testing since he failed, and said he has passed every subsequent test. He said he has completed the MLB drug treatment program.

Management has a different set of drug-testing rules than the ones for players on 40-man rosters that were negotiated by Major League Baseball and the players’ association.

For management employees who test positive for cocaine and other recreational drugs — as opposed to steroids and performance-enhancers — treatment is mandatory and decisions on discipline are made by the team and MLB on a case-by-case basis.

Street hampered
Rockies closer Huston Street will likely miss the season opener after experiencing tightness in his right shoulder.

Street has been hampered by inflammation in his pitching shoulder and has yet to throw in an exhibition game, putting him behind schedule. He threw about 25 pitches Monday and said afterward that his arm “felt great’’ but had discomfort during his throwing session the next day.

The 26-year-old Street was scheduled for an MRI yesterday. Manager Jim Tracy indicated that having Street ready in time for the opener April 5 in Milwaukee might be a stretch.

Street signed a $22.5 million, three-year deal in January after converting 35 of 37 save chances last season.

Nationals cut Dukes
Outfielder Elijah Dukes was released by the Nationals, a sudden move with 2 1/2 weeks left in spring training. “I don’t know what to say. It felt a little funny,’’ Dukes said. “I guess I wasn’t expecting it. That’s part of baseball. No big deal, no hard feelings. Just part of the game.’’ The 25-year-old Dukes was expected to be Washington’s starting right fielder. Yesterday was the last day the Nationals could put him on waivers and pay him 30 days’ termination pay at the minor league rate of his split contract instead of 45 days at the major league rate. So he is owed a little under $41,000, instead of about $109,000, which he would have been due had he been released later in spring training. “Elijah was great,’’ manager Jim Riggleman said. “He’s done his work. He’s got no issues. It’s just a baseball decision.’’ . . . The Diamondbacks agreed to terms with pitcher Kris Benson on a minor league contract. The righthander has compiled a 69-74 record with a 4.41 ERA over eight seasons with the Pirates, Mets, Orioles, and Rangers. Benson was on Texas’s 2009 Opening Day roster as a starter. After a short stint on the disabled list, he went to the bullpen and was 1-1 with an 8.46 ERA in eight games . . . Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee has been suspended for the first five games of the regular season for throwing a pitch over the head of Arizona’s Chris Snyder in an exhibition game Monday . . . A three-game series between the Mets and Marlins June 28-30 has been moved from Miami to San Juan.

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