Angels Using “Strong-Arm Tactics” on Gary Matthews Jr.?

Beat writer Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times suggests that the Angels’ "strong-arm tactics" have failed to sway Gary Matthews, Jr. into divulging all he knows about his involvement in the human growth hormone saga:

The Angels’ strong-arm tactics have had virtually no effect on Gary Matthews Jr., the center fielder who continues to test the patience of the organization by refusing to address allegations that he received a shipment of human growth hormone in 2004.

Sunday, it was owner Arte Moreno who said he was "not a very happy guy" and vowed that the matter would be "resolved by opening day, one way or the other." Tuesday, it was General Manager Bill Stoneman, who threw two no-hitters while pitching for the Montreal Expos, who came up and in on Matthews.

"We’ve made it clear to him that we want him to make a statement," Stoneman said. "We’ve encouraged him to get the facts out, get his side of the story out, whatever that story is. I understand that when lawyers get involved they generally tell you to be quiet about things. That doesn’t address the public side of it."

Matthews, whose name surfaced in a government investigation into the illegal distribution of steroids and human growth hormone, has hired attorney Robert Shapiro, who worked on O.J. Simpson’s legal "dream team," and a noted Southern California crisis management firm to represent him.

Though Shapiro said he was "firmly convinced Matthews has not violated any laws or rules established by Major League Baseball," he has advised Matthews not to comment until the investigation is complete.

Tuesday, Matthews, normally cordial and cooperative with the media, seemed perturbed when asked if it has been difficult for him to remain focused on baseball with the allegations swirling about him.

"If you want to talk about baseball, about yesterday’s game, we can talk about that," he said. "If you want to talk about getting prepared for the season, we can talk about that."

The Angels would like Matthews to talk about the allegations, because the longer he goes without discussing them, the more the public will believe the allegations to be true. When Texas Rangers utility player Jerry Hairston Jr. was implicated in the same investigation last week, he immediately denied receiving or using human growth hormone.

Attorneys representing the Angels have been in contact with attorneys for Matthews, the players’ union and MLB. USA Today reported Tuesday that MLB attorneys will be in Albany, N.Y., today to meet with Albany County District Attorney David Soares, who is heading up the investigation.

"Our involvement now is to apply pressure to everybody who is involved and move this thing forward," Stoneman said. "We want to keep reminding people that we’d like this to be brought to a quick conclusion. … It’s a distraction right now. We don’t want it to be a lengthy distraction."

The Angels signed Matthews to a five-year, $50-million contract in November, confident he would fill their need for a top-notch defender and a productive leadoff batter, but it’s clear the human growth hormone allegations have put a serious strain on the relationship between the team and its new center fielder.

"It’s certainly not an ideal way to start a five-year relationship with a guy," Stoneman said.

This article is copyright © 2007 Wordsmith Resources and FutureAngels.com. It may not be used elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author.

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