SARASOTA, Fla. -- In his first public move in an Orioles uniform, infielder Danny Valencia stepped in front of a podium on Wednesday and vehemently denied ever using any performance-enhancing drugs.
Valencia’s name was listed on records obtained by Yahoo Sports from a now-defunct clinic named Biogenesis, which the Miami New Times previously reported had provided PEDs to several major leaguers, including New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez.
Major League Baseball has been investigating Biogenesis and its owner, Anthony Bosch.
Valencia, a 28-year-old trying to resurrect his big league career with the Orioles, immediately issued a statement denying the report, then on Wednesday repeated his denial and took questions from reporters on the day of the team’s first spring training workout. Players linked to PEDs have issued varying denials, but Valencia’s was assertive and definitive.
“Basically, I’ve never had any contact with those people,” Valencia said. “I’ve never met Tony Bosch, never seen him, never been to that clinic, never heard of that clinic until the New Times story first broke. That being said, I’ve never ever taken a PED in my life, never failed a drug test in my life and I never will.”
In the Yahoo report, Valencia’s name appeared on a list that included Rodriguez and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, both of whom allegedly received PEDs from Bosch, according to the New Times report. Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun and Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli were also on the list with Valencia, but unlike Rodriguez and Cabrera, they were not linked to receiving any specific PED.
Valencia, acquired from the Boston Red Sox for cash on Nov. 28, is with his third organization since the beginning of last season. He began his career with the Minnesota Twins, playing 154 games in 2011 and finishing third in American League Rookie of the Year voting, but this spring he finds himself fighting for a 25-man roster spot. He has a minor league option, so he could be sent to Triple-A Norfolk to be the starting third baseman there.
Valencia said he was “absolutely shocked” to hear his named linked to the Biogenesis lab
“When I first got the phone call, I knew I was going to be in the clear,” Valencia said. “I knew I’m not going to get in trouble because there’s nothing they are going to find on me. I’ve never done anything.
“But he only thing that bothered me at the time was how the Orioles organization is going to perceive [it],” he added. “I thought about what [executive vice president] Dan Duquette is going to think, obviously what [manager] Buck [Showalter] is going to think, my teammates. That’s what matters. That was my first feeling, I felt upset about that.”
Valencia said he called Duquette the next morning and told him the report wasn’t true.
“I was really upset,” Valencia said. “I was trying to think of how this can possibly be. But I have nothing, I know just as much as everybody else. … I really don’t know anything. All I know is my name was on a piece of paper.”
Showalter said he will wait until MLB’s investigation into the clinic is complete to make judgment, but said, “where I stand, I choose to stand behind my player.”
“I’ve learned over the years to wait until they gather everything,” Showalter said. “I think there’s still a lot of speculation. We’ll see. … I have a lot of confidence in the people looking over those things. They’re looking into them for the right reasons. We’ll see when they get through gathering all the facts. I’m sure you’ll understand there will be some things that aren’t necessarily the way they’re necessarily portrayed. We’ll see. We’ll wait until everything comes in.”
This offseason, Major League Baseball and the players association agreed to expand testing for human growth hormone to include in-season blood testing. HGH testing during spring training and the offseason began last year.
Showalter said player physicals conducted on Wednesday included blood testing.
“We spent an extra hour in the physical today drawing vials of blood for testing,” he said. “And they’re going to do it again and again and again. And the players, they went, ‘Where’s it at? Yeah, I want to do it.’ Unfortunately a few people make everybody tainted. Believe me, I hear the conversations with our guys.
“But at the same time, I’m not naïve. I also understand the pressure on these guys. You look at the schedule they play and the expectations. I understand the temptation, but at some point we all have to make decisions.”