SARASOTA, Fla. - Infielder Danny Valencia is attracting attention in camp for the wrong reason.
For now, Valencia is known more for being a player whose name appears in the records of the Miami-area Biogenesis clinic that is alleged to have distributed performance-enhancing drugs to a number of players. He's looking forward to having the focus shift back to baseball, and he took a step toward reaching that goal this afternoon.
Valencia already issued a statement denying any involvement with the clinic and its operator, Anthony Bosch, but he agreed to meet with reporters following today's workout to address the topic one more time.
"There's really not much to it," he said. "Basically, I've never had any contact with those people. I've never met Anthony Bosch, I've never seen him, never been to that clinic, never heard of that clinic until the story first broke. That being said, I've never, ever taken a PED in my life. Never failed a drug test in my life and I never will.
"I was shocked. I was real upset. I was trying to think how this could possibly be. I don't know. I know just as much as everybody else.
"I really don't know anything. All I know is that my name was on a piece of paper."
Valencia is trying to make the team in spring training, so any negative news works against him, though he seems to have the full support of the organization.
"When I first found out, when I first got the phone call, I knew I was going to be in the clear," he said. "I know I'm not going to get in trouble because there's nothing they're going to find on me. I've never done anything. But the only thing that bothered me at the time was, what's the Orioles organization going to perceive? I thought about what Dan Duquette's going to think, obviously what Buck (Showalter) is going to think, and my teammates. That's what mattered most to me. That was my first feeling.
"I felt upset about that. I called Dan right away, spoke to him the very next morning and I told him what I just told you guys."
Showalter said he chooses to believe Valencia.
"I've learned over the years to wait until they gather everything," he said. "I think there's still a lot of speculation. We'll see. Where I stand, I choose to believe my player and...we'll see where it takes us. I have a lot lot of confidence in the people looking over those things. They're looking into them for the right reasons. We'll see when they get through gathering all the facts. I'm sure you'll understand there will be some things that aren't necessarily the way they're necessarily portrayed. We'll see. We'll wait until everything comes in."
Asked whether baseball will ever eliminate PEDs from the game, Showalter replied, "I would say no."
"I hope so, but does it keep you striving to get to that point?" Showalter said. "We went through that period. So what do you do, quit trying? It's a competitive place where people make decisions. I think what I try to dwell on is trying to take care of our own house, making sure you have things bottomed down and make sure guys are properly educated and do everything you can do.
"I don't want to sit here and say it's wishful thinking that you're going to completely get it out and everything. Where do you want to stop? I don't. I've heard everyone talking, 'The people who are supplying are always going to be ahead of the test.' Well, I'm going to tell you what, don't tell the testing people. We spent an extra hour in the physical today drawing vials of blood for testing. And they're going to do it again and again and again. And the players, they went, 'Where's it at? Yeah, I want to do it.'
"Unfortunately, a few people make everybody tainted. Believe me, I hear the conversations with our guys. But at the same time, I'm not naÃ¯ve. I also understand the pressure on these guys. You look at the schedule they play and the expectations. I understand the temptation, but at some point we all have to make decisions."