Arte Moreno got a powerful endorsement Saturday, when Commissioner Bud Selig said he supported the Angels' owner in his insistence that center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. publicly address allegations that he ordered a shipment of human growth hormone.
"Arte and I are absolutely on the same page on this issue," Selig said. "There isn't a scintilla of difference between Arte Moreno's position and mine. To say it as bluntly as I can say it, he's stating my position."
Moreno and Selig met for about 30 minutes before Saturday's game, a 10-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners, then met with reporters. Moreno did not take questions.
In the 12 days since the allegations surfaced, Matthews has hired a criminal defense lawyer and public relations firm but has not addressed the matter publicly. Moreno asked him to do so in a private meeting when the allegations arose and has repeated that request in several media interviews over the past week.
"A statement would be very, very helpful, to say the least," Selig said.
If Matthews issued a statement in which he expressed regret to fans, teammates and ownership for any inconvenience but did not specifically address the issue of human growth hormone, would that suffice?
"Why don't we let him make the statement?" Selig said.
Moreno has said he wants the matter resolved by opening day, and lawyers representing the Angels and Major League Baseball have discussed options including a suspension, conversion of his guaranteed contract to non-guaranteed and terminating the contract. Matthews signed a five-year, $50-million contract in November.
The players' union would almost certainly challenge any action; Matthews has not failed a drug test or been charged with a crime. Selig said he would not discuss what grounds the Angels might have to discipline Matthews.
"We're not there yet," Selig said.
Selig said he had to limit his comments in light of the ongoing investigation in which the names of Matthews and several other players have surfaced. Selig sent three representatives, including baseball's head of security, to meet last week with investigators in the case, and the commissioner said it would be "very premature" to say that no players will be charged.
Heather Orth, spokeswoman for prosecutor David Soares, the Albany County (N.Y.) district attorney, said investigators still are reviewing evidence and said "there's no way to tell at this point" whether any players might be charged.
That issue might not be settled until well beyond opening day, but Selig said he did not consider Moreno's timetable incompatible with the legal process.
"I think that is compatible, and I think that is very fair," Selig said. "I think his deadline is not an irrational one."
As spring training approaches the halfway point, the Angels' patience appears to be nearing an end.
"I don't think there's anything right now on the field that's a distraction," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "As time goes on and a resolution of this is maybe moving slower than we would like, it has the potential to be a distraction.
"Silence is a distraction."
Matthews did not play Saturday, a scheduled day off. He has three hits and five strikeouts in 16 at-bats.
"Spring training is quirky," he said. "You're either on fire or you get two hits."
He said he did not believe the uncertainty surrounding him has had any effect on his play.
"It's business as usual," he said. "I show up for work just like you do."
Also Saturday, Angels players watched a video explaining baseball's program of drug testing and punishment. That the video was shown on the day Selig visited, a club official said, was strictly coincidental.
No one booed Matthews, but ex-Angel Jose Guillen was booed loudly before and after he hit a home run. ... Ervin Santana, hampered by neck stiffness and control trouble, gave up five hits and walked two in three innings. ... Howie Kendrick had two hits Saturday and is batting .524 this spring. ... Scioscia said Brandon Wood, the Angels' top position prospect, would play third base at triple-A Salt Lake this season. Matt Brown, who would have played third there had the Angels not moved Wood from shortstop, hit a home run Saturday estimated at close to 500 feet, over the left-center field fence and the lawn beyond.