Lee: 'No sympathy' for steroid users
Cubs players worry that all players in this era are judged
MESA, Ariz. -- Derrek Lee has been asked if he ever took steroids. The Cubs first baseman's answer is always a firm "no." But because of Alex Rodriguez's recent admission, Lee said it's difficult to convince people not every Major Leaguer is taking performance-enhancing drugs.
"I've gotten the question," Lee said Tuesday. "It's unfortunate. I think if you played in this era, you're going to be questioned.
"They put a whole cloud over this whole era and basically people assume that everybody took steroids at this time."
If the names of the 103 other players who tested positive during Major League Baseball's survey testing in 2003 were revealed, then some players whom people assume are guilty could be cleared.
"I would [like to see them released] in a way," Lee said, "but no, because when they did the testing, that was confidential testing. Alex's name shouldn't have come out. If the testing was done in '03, that was supposed to be confidential."
"If it comes out, then you really move forward because all those guys now, whatever the punishment is, they couldn't punish them and it's over with," Lee said. "Right now, everyone is saying, 'Who are the 103 guys?' and you're going to hear the questions. That being said, those guys took the test and they were supposed to be confidential tests. Are you supposed to be punished for something like that? That's why I say, I don't know."
"It's not right to do steroids," he said, "but I also don't think it's right to be punished for something they're telling you is a confidential test."
It's a tricky matter.
"You can't judge everybody based on one guy," Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez said when asked about Rodriguez. "In every sport, people cheat and people try to get the edge on other players. I don't think that's right, but everybody has a different mentality. I guess it was different in '03. I can't say anything about it because I don't know A-Rod."
Ramirez was playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003 before he was dealt to the Cubs in July. He doesn't know anyone who might be on the list of players who tested positive.
"Whoever did it has got to be worried," Ramirez said. "If you didn't do anything back then or in '01 or '02 or '03, you don't have to worry. Whoever did that, they always did it quietly. Nobody knew A-Rod did it -- no players, I mean. When they do it, they do it in the hotel or their house; they're not going to do it in the clubhouse in front of everybody."
Alfonso Soriano was in Texas in 2004. Rodriguez called the culture there at that time "loosey goosey."
"I played in Texas for two years, and I didn't see anybody do anything," Soriano said. "I'm not in that position. I don't like to see negative things. I didn't see anybody do anything. I don't know who did it."
Soriano didn't even like talking about the subject.
"I'm proud of myself and what I do, but I'm not happy with what's going to happen with those guys and the league," Soriano said. "Those guys have families. They look up to their hero -- I'm the hero for my family. I think their families are not feeling good."
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and Boston's David Ortiz have suggested one-year bans for players who test positive.
"There should be zero tolerance," Lee said. "We've had plenty of warnings. There's no excuses. You get caught now, there should be no sympathy and you do your time."
"I think a year is -- if you got banned, I wouldn't feel sorry for a guy," he said. "Maybe if some guy got caught and truly didn't know what he was taking, in that instance [it'd be different]. But if you're taking steroids, there should be no sympathy."
Lee recalls being tested at least three times last season, and said he never had a warning as to when the tests would be administered. He has thought about players he knew from the 2003 season -- he was on the Florida Marlins at that time -- and wondered about them.
"I can say I know guys who did it and their names haven't come out," Lee said.
Don't expect them to voluntarily identify themselves.
"I don't think they're going to come bragging to you," he said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.