Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon proposes amnesty for those who tested positive for steroids and stronger penalties for future violators

PORT CHARLOTTE — Acknowledging that with Alex Rodriguez involved in baseball's steroids mess there is nothing left to be surprised or shocked about, Rays manager Joe Maddon is concerned that suspicions and revelations of others' use could linger over the game into the next decade.

So he has an idea of what to do about it.

Maddon suggested Wednesday that MLB implement an amnesty program for the reported 103 other players who tested positive then take strong measures to make sure there are no future violations.

"I'm just looking forward to the day that we move beyond it," Maddon said upon arrival at the new spring training complex. "For me, it really needs to come to the point where I'd like to see like an amnesty, basically, and move forward, and then create a situation where the penalties are so severe, nobody would ever even consider doing it again.

"But to continually drag it in the muck, I don't know what positive, useful purpose it serves. … It's been exposed, the boil's been lanced; let it heal. And then move forward and understand that a lot of people screwed up, not just a couple."

Maddon saw Rodriguez's now-tainted 2001-03 seasons in Texas up close as a coach with the division rival Angels. He said he gained considerable respect for how well and how hard Rodriguez played and "did not suspect anything."

Maddon didn't answer directly when asked if he had lost any of that respect and leaned toward Rodriguez's defense, acknowledging the accountability of his public admission and saying it wasn't right that A-Rod — because of his stature and salary — was being singled out.

"He's being vilified. Of course he's part of it, but there are a whole bunch of other names that are going to be exposed. … So to really just to hang it on one guy and just destroy his whole being, basically, I don't agree with that necessarily,'' he said.

"I'm not saying I agree with the fact of taking steroids; I'm just talking about this vigilante situation going on right now. I just think it's a little bit of overkill. I'm really surprised about the amount of exposure that it's getting on a daily basis."

Maddon acknowledges his idea may be flawed and admits he hadn't decided whether it would be better to release all the names, but he said if baseball doesn't take some action "to really clean up something this filthy, to really attempt to continue to dig through it, sift through it, I literally can't see an end in sight for I'm saying at least five years minimum."

Also:

• Senior adviser Don Zimmer, who had a small stroke in December, reported to camp. Joining about 20 players doing early workouts were pitchers Matt Garza, David Price and Andy Sonnanstine. Garza said offseason surgery to address a chipped bone in his right foot should not affect his spring schedule, though he has not been cleared to run on the field.

• Willy Aybar's two-year deal with a 2011 option is expected to be finalized today, as is the signing of reliever Brian Shouse, and the corresponding move (trade?) to make room on the 40-man roster.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon proposes amnesty for those who tested positive for steroids and stronger penalties for future violators 02/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 11:48pm]

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