VIERA, Fla., March 8 -- Unsatisfied by baseball's collective response to its invitations to appear voluntarily at a scheduled March 17 hearing on steroids, the House Government Reform Committee on Tuesday announced that it plans to issue subpoenas, perhaps as early as Wednesday, to compel those players and league executives to testify.
The committee "hopes subpoenas won't be necessary -- after all, baseball should want to seize the chance to explain the positive steps it's taken," said David Marin, a spokesman for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), the committee chairman. But Davis is "not encouraged by baseball's reluctance thus far to cooperate with the committee. If witnesses don't come voluntarily, he's prepared to subpoena them."
Invitations to appear before the committee were sent last Thursday to Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees, Curt Schilling of the Boston Red Sox, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro of the Baltimore Orioles and Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox. Former players Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, Commissioner Bud Selig, Executive Vice President Sandy Alderson, players' union chief Donald Fehr and San Diego Padres General Manager Kevin Towers also were asked to appear.
According to Marin, the response from the invited witnesses varied. "Some called and discussed in detail the idea of appearing," he said. "Others we've heard nothing from." Marin said the only witness who agreed unequivocally to appear was Canseco, whose recent autobiography contained allegations of widespread steroid use in the game.
Giambi said Monday night that his agent, Arn Tellem, was "going back and forth" with committee representatives over his possible cooperation. Giambi, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, admitted steroid use to a federal grand jury investigating an alleged California steroid ring. He could jeopardize the remaining $82 million on his New York Yankees contract by admitting the same thing publicly.
It was unclear what sort of immunity, if any, would be granted the witnesses who testify before the committee. The possibility of subpoenas was first reported on the Baltimore Sun's Web site Tuesday.
Baseball spokesman Rich Levin said the league had no comment on the committee's threatened action, saying, "We haven't received any subpoenas." A spokesman for the Baltimore Orioles said the team had not been contacted by anyone with the committee about the possibility Sosa and Palmeiro might be subpoenaed.
Allen reported from Washington. Staff writer Jorge Arangure Jr. contributed to this report.