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Wednesday, September 7, 2005
Morse suspended for steroids he says he took in '03

Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Seattle Mariners rookie Mike Morse was suspended 10 days Wednesday for violating baseball's steroids policy, and said he was still being punished for an "enormous mistake" he made in 2003.

Suspensions for Testing Positive
For Banned Substance
Date Player Team
Nov. 2 Matt Lawton, OF Yankees
Oct. 18 Felix Heredia, LHP Mets
Oct. 4 Carlos Almanzar, RHP Rangers
Sept. 7 Michael Morse, SS Mariners
Aug. 2 Ryan Franklin, P Mariners
Aug. 1 Rafael Palmiero, 1B Orioles
July 8 Rafael Betancourt, P Indians
May 2 Juan Rincon, P Twins
April 26 Jamal Strong, OF Mariners
April 20 Agustin Montero, P Rangers
April 11 Jorge Piedra, OF Rockies
April 4 Alex Sanchez, OF Devil Rays
Morse became the ninth major-league player penalized under the sport's tougher drug rules. He hit a go-ahead single in the seventh inning for a 3-2 win over Oakland, and on Wednesday the grievance by the players' association to overturn the suspension was denied by arbitrator Shyam Das.

"This result is unfair and unfortunate. It punishes Michael Morse again for conduct for which he has already been punished," said Michael Weiner, the union's general counsel. "The PA does not believe the parties ever intended for the Basic Agreement to compel such a harsh result."

Morse, 23, was batting .287 with three home runs and 23 RBI in 209 at-bats since being called up from Triple-A earlier this season. The infielder-outfielder was acquired last season in the trade that sent pitcher Freddy Garcia to the Chicago White Sox.

"The players' association negotiated for a clean slate when a player is promoted from the minor leagues to the major leagues. That clean slate, however, is a two-way street," said Rob Manfred, executive vice president of labor relations in the commissioner's office. "If minor-league discipline does not count in determining the severity of the penalty to be imposed for a violation of the major-league program, then such discipline cannot immunize the player from discipline under the major-league program."

In a statement before Wednesday's game against the Athletics, Morse apologized to "the fans, my teammates, the Mariners organization, baseball and to my family," and he offered an explanation.

"Back in November 2003 when I was 21 years old, I made an enormous mistake in my life: I took steroids while in the minor leagues," he said. "My thigh muscle, which I had previously torn, had never healed and I was scared that my career was over. I was desperate and made a terrible mistake which I deeply regret.

"In May 2004, I was punished and suspended, which I deserved, for my mistake. I embarrassed myself, my family and my team. I am responsible for the mistake of taking steroids and the positive result was not due to some over-the-counter supplement, protein shake or tainted test."

Morse said the steroids, however, remained in his body and that he was again suspended in July 2004 while in the minors. He said those remnants resulted in another positive test this year, and he appealed those results.

"I am troubled that I will be suspended for the third time despite the fact that the scientific evidence supports that I kept my promise that I would never use steroids again," he said. "Even the [arbitration] panel states in its written decision that 'the panel recognizes that this result may be viewed as unfair to Michael Morse.'

"I find it unfair that I am being punished three different times for making the mistake of taking steroids in the 2003 offseason. At least there is some solace in the fact that the scientific evidence supports that I kept my promise that I would never use steroids again," his statement said.

Later, Morse met with reporters and said, "I know what I did and I was wrong."

"I was a man about it and I confronted it. I came forward and served my time," he said. "Now it's twice for the same thing. Now I get this again two years later. It's just unfair."

"I'm not lying and I'm not hiding anything," he said. "I'm for testing. I'm for kicking out steroids."

Earlier this season, Mariners pitcher Ryan Franklin and Seattle outfielder Jamal Strong were penalized for violating the steroids policy.

"We've had two other people at the major-league level and this is no different," Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said. "We're not happy about it."

Asked whether he felt badly for Morse because of the background, Bavasi said: "Everyone has natural feelings and given the circumstances, sure."