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Friday, February 27, 2004
Kent: Old-timers deserve scrutiny, too

Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Jeff Kent knocked over a few monuments to make a point.

In a newspaper interview, Kent wondered aloud whether some of the game's hallowed past stars -- such as Lou Gehrig or Babe Ruth -- might have used performance-enhancing drugs.

He said Friday he wasn't accusing anyone of anything, just merely noting that there's no way to know either way.

"People are so pinned on the era now versus the era then," Kent said. "How do we know about then? Do we really know about then? I think we're starting to understand and learn more facts about now, so everybody's trying to relate the records broken, the way ballplayers are bigger and badder and better than ever now, but how do we know about then?

"We never really tested, so that was my reference. I apologize to all the Babe Ruth fans out there, but geez, I was just trying to make a point."

Kent's initial comments on the subject appeared in Friday's editions of the Houston Chronicle, when he asked whether it can be proven that past players didn't use some steroid-like substances, such as equine steroids.

The issue has loomed over baseball since 5-7 percent of the players anonymously tested last season had positive results. That triggered the start of testing with penalties this year. A first positive test would result in treatment and a second in a 15-day suspension or fine of up to $10,000.

Also, Barry Bonds, Kent's former teammate on the San Francisco Giants, and New York Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi were called in December before a federal grand jury investigating the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative.

Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, admitted to giving steroids to several players and was one of four men with ties to the BALCO charged this month with distributing steroids.

Kent calls the problems a "pure embarrassment" for baseball, though he also lamented the rampant speculation about who might be cheating.

"I think that's wrong for the media to point fingers at one big-chested guy versus a skinny guy: `He did it, he didn't do it,'" Kent said.

Then again, he acknowledged it doesn't add up when almost every player denies taking such substances.

"For people to sit back and say, 'I didn't do it,' well hell, there's about 10 percent of the players who are doing it, and that's a shame. There should be more integrity in this game, and integrity is that you don't cheat."

And for those Ruth backers who might have gotten offended?

"Wah," Kent said.

The Astros' spring rotation will look just like the regular season. Manager Jimy Williams said Roy Oswalt will pitch March 5 against the Indians at Winter Haven, followed March 6 by Andy Pettitte at home against the Braves and March 7 against the Pirates at Bradenton ... The Astros donned jackets as they warmed up Friday on what they hope will be the chilliest day of camp with temperatures in the 50s. Conditions were expected to become more Florida-like over the weekend.