Steroid claims don't sit well with Whitt

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

Former Blue Jays catcher Ernie Whitt is calling for a brush-back pitch on Jose Canseco.

Whitt was upset with the claims the slugger makes about steroid use in Major League Baseball in his upcoming book Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big.

Canseco, now retired after a difficult adjustment to life away from the diamond, which included legal problems, writes that he used steroids and introduced several major-leaguers to the performance-enhancing drug.

"I think what Jose has done is as bad as throwing all his teammates under a bus," Whitt said yesterday, prior to joining the head table at the Conn Smythe Sports Celebrities Dinner, in support of Easter Seals. "I only know what I've heard (in the book excerpts that have been acquired by newspapers), but it's sad if he's saying he was shooting up and helping other players do it, too.

"Maybe he is hurting for money, but I don't like it. But we don't know yet what else is in the book.

"Major League Baseball has started to react to the (overall) steroid issue and I think that's great. But a lot of us (who played when Canseco was belting monster home runs) are innocent and this story just makes people (paint all players with the steroid brush)."

Whitt, who will rejoin the Jays as a bench coach this season after leading Canada to a fourth-place finish at the Summer Olympics in Athens, is pleased his arrival coincides with the new FieldTurf system being installed at the Rogers Centre.

"On artificial turf, the ball just takes off and goes," said Whitt, who was a roving instructor for the Jays before heading overseas with the Olympic team. "But I saw this new technology put in at a double-A field and they didn't lay it down quite right. It was too slow and you needed a cannon to get it through the infield. But I'm sure this will be fine."

Whitt said he followed baseball's free-agent signing season with interest and amazement.

"It's surprising some of the contracts some of the free agents got," Whitt said. "(Jays general manager ) J.P. Ricciardi has been working with a limited amount of money and I know he was surprised with what they were demanding."

As for the Jays, Whitt said he doesn't feel the loss of Carlos Delgado has to be a significant setback.

"Other guys will have to step up with Carlos gone," he said. "It's a 25-man roster and everyone will have to step up and do their job.

"I'm a firm believer in pitching and defence. If Doc (Roy Halladay) comes back and Ted Lilly and Miguel Batista have good years, and we get a closer, we've got a chance."


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