Players Puzzled, Amused by Steroid Arrests in Fla.

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 28, 2009

NEW YORK, May 27 -- By the time the Washington Nationals reported to Citi Field on Monday, most had read or heard about the Lakeland, Fla., man who claims he sold performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes, including players on the Nationals and Capitals. But even the players who had an interest in the story's specifics encountered a problem: For now, they couldn't find many. Richard and Sandra Thomas, arrested in a steroid bust, gave law enforcement officials the names of teams, but not the names of individuals.

"It's just, what else can happen to us?" Adam Dunn said. "It's just kind of piling on. Again, to me that is the last thing I'm worried about, some guy saying whatever he said about us."

Mostly, players met the news with a mix of puzzlement and amusement. One quipped that all 25 players recently had dinner at the Thomases' Lakeland home.

"Look at that guy's arms," joked Austin Kearns, motioning to teammate Josh Willingham. "Ask him about the steroids."

Kearns, turning serious, then said: "I don't really have a reaction. I don't know who it is, I don't know what he's talking about or who he's talking about. I just heard about it five minutes ago. I can't even remember the guy's name."

At least a half-dozen former Washington players have been formally connected to performance-enhancing drugs, and current relief pitcher Ron Villone was named in the Mitchell Report. The Nationals are holding off on concern about the claims, though, until Major League Baseball's investigative unit gives them a reason to have any. The team does not plan to conduct an internal investigation, instead yielding to the league itself.

"All we're going to say is that our own investigators will be looking into it," MLB spokesman Rich Levin said. Asked if league investigators knew of Richard Thomas before his arrest, Levin said, "Not that I'm aware of, no."

Said Manager Manny Acta: "I know less than you guys know about this. I'm the wrong guy to talk about all this. All I know is what has been said in the paper, and we support Major League Baseball's testing program. I think it's good. It's working. And if there is any truth to it, then it will come out."

MacDougal to Be Added

After Wednesday night's game, the Nationals announced their intention to purchase the contract of pitcher Mike MacDougal, a former all-star closer who had been with Class AAA Syracuse. MacDougal will be the eighth member of the bullpen, and at least for the next series, the Nationals will stick with that number, acting GM Mike Rizzo said. To make room for MacDougal, the Nationals returned catcher Luke Montz to Class AA Harrisburg.

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