Ortiz talks about trainer

He worked with A-Rod associate

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / February 22, 2009
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FORT MYERS, Fla. - David Ortiz became the latest baseball player forced to answer questions about steroids - in this case, his association with an athletic trainer who has been banned from major league clubhouses because of past links to steroids.

Ortiz acknowledged yesterday that he has known Angel Presinal, who has served as a personal trainer for Alex Rodriguez, for several years and worked with him at a facility in the Dominican Republic.

"We had this facility, five minutes away from my house, and he's one of the guys that trains everybody," said Ortiz. "That's what everybody does. It's in the center of the city, right in the middle where everybody lives, like an Olympics place where everybody goes to work out, do hitting, running, and other stuff."

The Red Sox slugger said he never was pushed toward steroids by Presinal.

Asked whether he knew about any involvement Presinal had with steroids, Ortiz said, "Those are things that are at another level.

"You've got to do what you've got to do. You've got to know what can cause you problems and you have to deal with that."

Presinal served as Rodriguez's personal trainer when A-Rod was a member of the Texas Rangers from 2001-03, a time when Rodriguez has admitted taking a performance-enhancing substance.

Rodriguez contends that his cousin supplied the drugs he used and that he stopped using them after leaving Texas. The New York Daily News reported that Presinal traveled with Rodriguez during the superstar's MVP season in 2007 with the Yankees, and that Presinal shared hotel rooms with the cousin in question.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Presinal has never been in the team's clubhouse or been affiliated with the team in any way.

Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003, when he and other players agreed to a confidential and anonymous survey. The agreement between the players' union and Major League Baseball was that if more than 5 percent of the players tested positive, penalties would be implemented for future positive tests. Almost 9 percent tested positive, but once the results were tabulated, they were to be destroyed. They weren't because the federal government stepped in and ordered the results be turned over.

Presinal, who was also the trainer for the Dominican team in the first World Baseball Classic in 2006, denied to ESPN Deportes that he ever advised any of his clients to take steroids.

"I've known him for a long time," said Ortiz. "All I know from him is how to keep our bodies ready - working out, teaching how to do the right exercises, and things like that.

"He's not just teaching baseball players. He has a guy who runs marathons, a volleyball player, basketball player, everybody. He's been doing that for years. All I know is we all work out with him as a group of guys that want to be ready in spring training. And that's about it."

Presinal, who was Juan Gonzalez's personal trainer when the two-time MVP played for the Cleveland Indians in 2001, was questioned by US authorities that year, according to the Mitchell Report, when Canadian Border Service officers found steroids and syringes in a duffel bag. Gonzalez and Presinal denied ownership of the bag.

Ortiz said he has had no other outside activity with Presinal other than offseason workouts with a group of players who live in the Dominican, including the Yankees' Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera, Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero and pitcher Ervin Santana, and former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez.

"I only see him when I'm down there working out, like everyone else," said Ortiz. "It's not his facility but he knows how to train people and teaches us how to do exercise and things like that. But, like I said, you are the owner of your own decision. It's sad that he's involved in things like this."

Ortiz was asked the same question A-Rod was asked a day earlier at Yankees camp in Tampa: Do you have to be careful about the people you associate with? Rodriguez said absolutely, and that over the next 18-24 months, he feels he has to be especially careful.

"Of course," said Ortiz. "Especially in this day and age with all the stuff going on."

Asked whether he was concerned that people may judge him based on his associations, Ortiz said, "I don't care what people say, it's the way you show yourself out there. But you definitely have to be careful with anyone who is involved in all the stuff that's out there."

He also said he doesn't have a personal list of people he has to stop being associated with.

"I don't have that problem," he said. "I'm pretty much with my family most of the time. I'm not the type of person who creates a relationship with strangers."

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