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OUTED DOPER SAYS HE'S RELIEVED, SORRY

Rockies reliever Matt Herges says he's actually glad he was implicated in the Mitchell report on drugs in baseball because it led him to do some soul-searching and clear his conscience over his "dirty little secret."

"I didn't used to be this way, but I'm at the point where I know what I did was wrong 100 percent, no excuses, no justification, no rationalization. I screwed up and I crossed the line," Herges, 37, told the Associated Press from his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Wednesday.

"I feel like I've been shown mercy in all of this," Herges said. "If I'm not standing there naked in front of the world with my big secret, I'd still be holding onto it, hiding it. It would still be eating at me. It's not fun by any stretch holding onto something like that, so secretive, so dirty. I'm grateful it's out there. I'm freed a little bit, a lot actually."

Rockies first-base coach Glenallen Hill, who was also implicated in the Mitchell report, and Herges broke their silence on the matter Wednesday by issuing written apologies for using performance-enhancing drugs. They said they would work to make sure impressionable youngsters don't make the same mistakes.

They issued their statements on the day Roger Clemens and his former personal trainer Brian McNamee testified before Congress about drug use in baseball.

"It was on in the background while I was working out," Herges said. "It's not a place I wanted to be, let's put it that way."

A'S: Right-hander Chad Gaudin had operations on his left hip and right foot Dec.18, meaning that putting too much pressure on either side of his body while rehabilitating was painful for a while. Now, the former Ray is playing catch every other day and hopes to be throwing off a mound by March 1. "Just having both, it limits you," Gaudin said. "It's getting better. I'm looking forward to March 1."

BLUE JAYS: Closer B.J. Ryan said he expects to be ready for opening day after having Tommy John elbow surgery in May. "It's what I shot for all winter," Ryan said. "You bust your tail the whole time and put myself in a situation where you can break with the team."

DODGERS: Right-handed closer Takashi Saito agreed to a $2-million, one-year contract a day before pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

MARINERS: Left-hander Erik Bedard, obtained last week, will start on opening day. He was expected to compete with Felix Hernandez but was told he had won the assignment.

PHILLIES: Right-hander Kris Benson agreed to terms on a minor-league contract after missing last season following shoulder surgery. He will compete with Adam Eaton, J.D. Durbin and Chad Durbin for a rotation spot.

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