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Red Sox undergo first steroid testing

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- David Ortiz slipped off the ice wrap from his troublesome right shoulder, and while water dripped from his T-shirt, he exchanged what looked to be a painful moment for a lighter one when asked about the steroid testing he underwent yesterday.

"They pick me [to be tested] every time," he said. "I don't know why. I don't know if it's because I'm a big guy, or what, but all I know is all they are going to find is a lot of rice and beans."

Ortiz was one of at least six and as many as 12 Red Sox tested for the first time under Major League Baseball's new tougher testing policy. Sox vice president Mike Port, who has been designated the team's de facto administrator of the program, would not be specific about the number, nor would he reveal the names, which are confidential.

He informed the players as they arrived to the clubhouse for yesterday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Port said the testing was supervised.

"I'm glad it's over," Ortiz said. "It's good to just get it out of the way."

Testing started in the majors last week, but yesterday was the first day for any Red Sox. Commissioner Bud Selig and union president Donald Fehr agreed on a more stringent steroid testing policy this offseason that calls for a 10-day suspension without pay for first-time offenders. The penalties escalate to 30 days for a second positive, 60 days for a third, and a one-year suspension for a fourth violation.

Port was not sure how long it would take to get results from the independent testing lab. Selig and the teams are then made aware of violators.

Players weren't eager to speak on the topic. Curt Schilling, one of the seven current or former players subpoenaed to testify before Congress, did not address the topic yesterday.

Manager Terry Francona said Schilling was likely asked to testify because of his relationship with Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has been adamant in his calls for baseball to overhaul his testing policy.

Francona was certain Schilling wasn't asked on suspicion the righthander used steroids. "Are you kidding me? Have you ever seen him in the shower? He's not on steroids," said Francona. "I don't know [anything] about steroids, but he's not on them.

"If Snickers are considered illegal, he may be on them."

Francona thinks all the finger-pointing and suspicion is unfair. The Sox manager, who played in the 1980s, didn't go as far as to say players were steroid-free, but does feel current players have been unfairly targeted. "There have been a lot of names thrown out there," he said. "I've heard a lot of people say they haven't done it. I'm not smart enough to know whether they have. I don't think anyone here is, either. To me, that's not fair. It's fair if they test people. That's fair."

Francona made a point of saying, "We don't play San Francisco this year, but if we did, we're still walking Barry Bonds. Get my point? We're still not going to let him beat us. He's good. He's been good and he's going to be good.".

The manager added, "I'm glad this is happening. I've heard so much and read so much that I know is not true. I think this [testing] will change the perception, which is often more important than what's going on. I think it'll be very good for baseball. You've got so much stuff coming out. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, that's the way it was.

"What bothers me is that people think it's a laboratory in the clubhouse."

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