In discussing his idea of a new policy in which any and all players would be held under stricter codes should they be implicated in any way to performance-enhancing drugs, Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick acknowledged to a local newspaper that he and the organization may have had some suspicions about Arizona left fielder Luis Gonzalez.
Kendrick, in an interview Tuesday with a news columnist from The Arizona Republic and in an article printed in Thursday's editions, said, among other things, "I'll be blunt with you and say there have been certainly whispers about Luis Gonzalez" using steroids in 2001."
That was the year in which Gonzalez hit a career-high 57 home runs. Before that season, the most he had ever hit in one year was 31. Since 2001, the most he has hit in a year is 28.
Kendrick went on to say in the article that he "absolutely" believed other players besides relief pitcher Jason Grimsley had probably used illegal drugs in the past and said team officials had "quietly" ushered those players out the door even though those suspected may have never been proven to be guilty of anything.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, who is in the final year of his contract with the Diamondbacks, decided it was incumbent upon himself to call a news conference before Thursday's game against the visiting Giants to try and clear his name.
He acknowledged he was hurt by Kendrick's comments, but also said he doesn't hold any ill feelings toward the part owner or the organization. Gonzalez's former longtime agent, Jeff Moorad, is a general partner of the Diamondbacks and is in control of most of the baseball operations involving the club.
Moorad, however, hasn't made any comments since Grimsley first was disclosed to have admitted using steroids, human growth hormone and other drugs throughout most of his career after his Scottsdale, Ariz., home was raided by federal agents last week.
"It's unfortunate that I have to sit here today to almost tell you guys, to defend myself for no reason," Gonzalez said. "Just to have your name thrown in. I've had phone calls from 7:30 this morning till right now. I don't want to be in this situation. I don't think any of my teammates do.
"I know Ken is trying to do the right thing. He is trying to protect the game of baseball, I think, in his own way. It's been a rough week for him and, of course, today's been a rough day for me, too."
As for the 57 homers in 2001, when Gonzalez had the game-winning hit in Game 7 of a World Series victory over the Yankees, Gonzalez added, "For that one season I had, that I had a good year, all of a sudden everybody throws a dark cloud over it and starts speculating that I've been cheating in the game. That's not me. That's not the way I was brought up, and I will never take the game to that level. I have a lot of integrity for this game."
REPLAY: Arizona finished a 10-game homestand with a 1-9 record, capped by an 8-2 loss to the visiting Giants in what Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin called one of the roughest times in the club's nine-year history.
"It was ugly. It was embarrassing. We're all embarrassed," he said.
Pedro Feliz drove in a career-high six runs and pitcher Matt Morris threw his first complete game in a year as Arizona wound up being outscored 78-24 in the 10 games. The Diamondbacks start interleague play with games coming up at Texas and Tampa Bay.
--SS Craig Counsell, a member of the Players' Association executive committee, said as much as Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick wants to impose tougher, in-house policies regarding the suspicion of performance-enhancing drugs, "a code of conduct will not happen."
"Our rules in this game are through the collective bargaining agreement," he said. "If it's through the collective bargaining agreement, if it's something that's bargained, fine. But for me, doing things individually, team by team, is a dangerous precedent, and I don't think it's something we should get into."
As for Kendrick dropping Diamondbacks LF Luis Gonzalez's name as a possible user of steroids or performance-enhancing drugs, Counsell said Kendrick would likely regret his comments.
"I'm surprised how careless (Kendrick) was with Luis Gonzalez's name," he said. "If you're an owner, Luis Gonzalez is your dream superstar. The way he plays, the way he handles himself in the community, treats other people. To associate his name with such a sensitive topic is very careless."
--Ken Kendrick, the managing general partner of the Diamondbacks, said he was not afraid to instruct his charges to rid the team of players known to use illegal, performance-enhancing drugs, telling The Arizona Republic: "The union will not like the fact that we're going to basically release players before they would ordinarily be released under the current guidelines. We're going to do that."
--The Diamondbacks finished their 10-game homestand with a 1-9 record, this after tying a club record for their best-ever road trip of 10 games or more by going 7-3 during a trip to Cincinnati, the New York Mets and Atlanta.
--RHP Jose Valverde has allowed 17 runs over his past 10 appearances, keeping him out of the closer's role. He had recorded 14 saves before being bumped to middle relief.
"No excuses, he's going to have to pitch better," manager Bob Melvin said. "The numbers over the last nine or 10 games aren't very good. He'll have to pitch better to move back toward that role because we were playing our best ball with him closing."
RHP Jorge Julio has three saves since taking over the closing duties from Valverde upon his trade to Arizona from the Mets.
--RHP Juan Cruz, sidelined with a sore right shoulder, underwent an MRI after feeling some stiffness in the joint on Tuesday, and he isn't expected to return to the Diamondbacks in time for a June 22 start at Tampa Bay. He will be pushed back a day or two, meaning Arizona probably will have to make a move to bring up a starting pitcher from Triple-A Tucson, either RHP Dustin Nippert or RHP Edgar Gonzalez.
--SS Craig Counsell was charged with his seventh error of the season Thursday, this after being charged with eight all year as Arizona's starting second baseman.
BY THE NUMBERS: 50 -- Consecutive games Luis Gonzalez has gone without a home run, the longest homerless streak of any position player on the team as of June 15.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He didn't want to be a distraction? Well, clearly he was a distraction. It's remained a distraction. ...Our team hasn't played the same since the day this thing happened. You can see it out there." -- Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick, on relief pitcher Jason Grimsley.
LHP Terry Mulholland, who had been on the disabled list with inflammation in his left elbow, was activated June 3. He returned to the disabled list June 6 with an inner ear infection.
RHP Juan Cruz was placed on the disabled list with a sore shoulder June 7. He felt some stiffness June 13, pushing back his possible return at least a few days from the scheduled June 22.
"I'll be blunt with you and say there have been certainly whispers about Luis Gonzalez" using…