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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Baseball drug ruling a relief for Villone

By Joe Strauss
SAN FRANCISCO • Cardinals lefthanded reliever Ron Villone was among the players cited for accepting shipments of steroid and/or Human Growth Hormone in last December’s release of the Mitchell Report to the commissioner’s office.

Villone was among those relieved Friday by Major League Baseball’s decision to follow Senator George Mitchell’s recommendation that those cited not be disciplined.

"I wasn’t really sitting around spending a great deal of time thinking about it," Villone said before Friday’s game against the San Francisco Giants. "But it’s great that it’s done with. Maybe now everybody can move on. I moved on a long time ago."

The decision not to punish alleged offenders came as a central component of the Joint Drug Agreement announced between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Villone was a free agent when the Mitchell Report was released and was never assigned punishment. Since-released Baltimore Orioles outfielder Jay Gibbons and Kansas City Royals outfielder Jose Guillen had already been given 15-game suspensions.

Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel and third baseman Troy Glaus also were mentioned in the report. However, both previously received notification from MLB that they would not be disciplined after speaking with investigators. Villone had received no such assurance.

"Whatever was going to happen was going to happen," he said. "There was nothing I could say or do to change that."

"I think everyone was hoping they’d decide that way," current player rep Adam Wainwright said, referring to the amnesty. "Baseball has come up with a very tough drug testing policy, the toughest in any sport. That’s been proven."


Cardinals manager Tony La Russa became the 44th inductee to the San Francisco-based Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame. La Russa, an East Bay resident and former Oakland A’s manager, was recognized during an on-field ceremony immediately before Friday’s game. La Russa was raised in Tampa, Fla., the son of an Italian father and Spanish mother, and currently ranks third among managers in career victories with 2,382 in the regular season.


Third-base coach Jose Oquendo took responsibility for shortstop Cesar Izturis’ baserunning misadventure during the third inning of Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Izturis smashed a pitch into the right-field corner and slowed near second base before picking up Oquendo’s signal to keep going. Izturis was then cut down for the inning’s second out.

"I should have stopped him," said Oquendo, whose responsibility is to track the relay as much as it is to follow the baserunner. "It shouldn’t have happened. I put that on myself. It always bothers me a lot when something like that happens."


La Russa may have tipped his hand about the pending bullpen move that will correspond with Joel Pineiro’s activation from the disabled list Sunday.

Asked whether there might be an organizational tug to return McClellan to the Triple-A Memphis rotation, La Russa insisted he had never received any such recommendation.

"Whatever his future is, what he’s doing right now helps him. You can’t replace the experience he’s having by going into key situations here," the manager said.

With Pineiro going into the rotation and Brad Thompson apparently headed to the bullpen, it’s believed that either McClellan or Kelvin Jimenez is ticketed to Memphis.

"Think whatever you want to think. It’s not going to be McClellan," La Russa said.

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