Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Baseball [Print without images]

Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Updated: June 21, 9:43 AM ET
Hicks: Gonzalez's injuries and early retirement suspicious

ESPN.com news services

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks suspects that two-time AL MVP Juan Gonzalez may have used steroids.

His number of injuries and early retirement just makes me suspicious. In any event, we paid him $24 million for very few games.

Rangers owner Tom Hicks

"I have no knowledge that Juan used steroids. His number of injuries and early retirement just makes me suspicious," Hicks wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Wednesday. "In any event, we paid him $24 million for very few games."

Hicks was responding to questions about a television interview in which he was asked about decisions he regretted since owning the team, then mentioned the oft-injured outfielder and steroids.

"Juan Gonzalez for $24 million after he came off steroids, probably, we just gave that money away," Hicks said in the interview, aired June 10 on KTVT-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Gonzalez had three extended stays on the disabled list when he returned to the Rangers for the 2002 and 2003 seasons. Sidelined by a torn ligament in his right thumb and a right calf injury, he played in only 152 of 324 games, hitting .288 with 32 homers and 105 RBIs.

"That kind of rhetoric does not deserve a response, because it's so irresponsible," said Gonzalez's agent, Al Nero.

The Dallas Morning News, citing Major League Baseball officials, said Hicks isn't likely to be subjected to discipline from commissioner Bud Selig. Hicks said he made Selig aware of his comments and that Selig had no issues with them.

Jose Canseco, who played with Gonzalez and the Rangers in 1992-94 before Hicks owned the team, has admitted using steroids. Canseco claimed in his 2005 book that he used steroids with Gonzalez, who was 35 when he played his last major league game and tore his hamstring in his only at-bat for Cleveland in 2005.

Gonzalez, who had 434 home runs, was the AL MVP in 1996 and 1998 for Texas. He was the centerpiece of a nine-player trade that sent him to Detroit after the 1999 season following the Rangers' third AL West title in four seasons.

After only one season with the Tigers and a year in Cleveland, Gonzalez signed a $24 million, two-year free-agent deal to return to Texas, the team that had originally signed him as a 16-year-old free agent out of Puerto Rico.

Back problems limited Gonzalez to 33 games in 2004 after a $4 million deal with Kansas City.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.