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Apology accepted, O's say

Coping with fallout, Roberts gets support from Angelos, teammates

By Jeff Zrebiec

Sun Reporter

December 19, 2007

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tried to stick to his routine. He woke up early, surfed the Internet and worked out. When he returned to his Arizona home, he had hoped to relax.

But there was no way yesterday could be normal. Roberts, the Orioles' two-time All-Star second baseman, told The Sun on Monday night that he had taken steroids once in 2003 but hasn't taken any since. The admission came four days after his name surfaced in Sen. George Mitchell's report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.

Yesterday, Roberts knew that he would have to face the fallout.

"I didn't know what to expect, but I wasn't doing it for a reaction," Roberts said. "I was doing it for me. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't hard. Anytime you see your name smeared all over this place and a lot of it isn't great, it's not fun. I'm a human being, too. I have feelings, emotions. You can handle people yelling at you from the stands because you're accustomed to that. But today was something I'm not accustomed to and it wasn't a lot of fun."

Yesterday, Orioles owner Peter Angelos was among several members of the organization to voice support for Roberts, whose hard-nosed and effective play and his work off the field have made him probably the team's most popular player. Roberts, 30, spoke to Angelos on Monday afternoon to apologize and notify the owner of his intentions.

"We commend Brian for acknowledging a serious and uncharacteristic past error in judgment," Angelos said. "As an Oriole, Brian has not only been a favorite of fans, who have followed his on-field accomplishments, but he has established a remarkable record of service and devotion to the community - one rarely matched by professional athletes.

"His untiring efforts with desperately ill children at Hopkins and other institutions reflect a commitment and compassion of a sensitive and caring young man who deeply feels the anguish of others. How sad then, and indeed how cruel, that in his time of anguish and remorse, there are no words of comfort or even some hint of forgiveness for a foolish mistake that he made a long time ago."

In his statement, which was officially released yesterday, Roberts admitted that in 2003 he took "one shot of steroids," but "never used steroids, human growth hormone or any other performance-enhancing drugs prior to or since that single incident."

Roberts said he understands that some people will be skeptical, but Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail is not among them. "I take Brian at his word," he said. "I have no reason not to believe him."

Mark Pieper, Roberts' longtime agent, said yesterday: "The one thing I can say with 100 percent certainty is everything that Brian said is true. Whether other people believe him or not, we have no control over that. He's going to have to live with the consequences, which are that people may not believe him."

Orioles outfielder knows what his close friend is going through. A week and a half ago, Gibbons made his own difficult admission, acknowledging that he had used human growth hormone, which resulted in a 15-day suspension from Major League Baseball.

"Brian is the type of guy that everyone should look up to," Gibbons said. "He's the ultimate role model and this one incident shouldn't detract from that."

Orioles third baseman , another longtime teammate, said Roberts owes no further explanation.

"Every grown man is responsible for their own actions," Mora said. "He says he has apologized, and he didn't have to if he didn't want to. He doesn't have to apologize to me."

The Orioles will take no disciplinary action against Roberts, and it's unlikely MLB will attempt to penalize him based on the information available to commissioner Bud Selig.

Selig said he would judge each name in the Mitchell report on a "case-by-case basis." Roberts' steroid use - both admitted by Roberts and alleged in the Mitchell Report by former teammate Larry Bigbie - is said to have taken place in 2003. That was the year baseball began "survey testing" all members of 40-man rosters for illegal performance-enhancers. Those tests were anonymous, and there were no penalties for testing positive in 2003. Punitive measures for failing a first test did not take effect until 2005.

"I've always been able to answer to myself through this whole process," Roberts said last night. "I addressed it a long time ago with me personally and my relationship with God.

"I wish I could sit here and say, 'Wow, this was a great day as I got this off my chest.' But I would be lying. I don't really have any hopes of what other people will do. I asked for forgiveness and I hope people are willing to do that."

Sun reporter Dan Connolly contributed to this article.
jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com