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Ortiz's explanation as convoluted as union's stance

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NEW YORK – Well, that should clear everything up.

Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz(notes) says he was "a little bit careless" about the vitamins and supplements he used to take, and God only knows how that might have affected the drug tests he took back in 2003.

But Ortiz says he never bought or used steroids, no sir, and while he wishes he could tell you how his name appeared on the list of players attached to a grand jury subpoena, he can't, because the list is under court seal and as a matter of fact, he can't say with any certainty that he even tested positive.

The union never told him he had tested positive, not back then, not now. All union lawyer Michael Weiner did, back in 2004, was tell Ortiz his name was on the list – that's what the union told Congressmen Henry Waxman and Tom Davis, too, that they just informed players of their presence on the list, no more. And the rest of us should have known that if we'd been paying attention, but because we weren't, the union decided to issue a statement explaining it all again and damn it, they'd like to tell us more but unlike those wretched leakers breaking the law every time they talk to the New York Times, the union is going to keep its mouths shut and be upstanding citizens.

Well, except the union will tell you that the numbers on those reports about tests don't add up, that they're only sure of 83 positive tests, because that was the number that automatically triggered mandatory testing going forward, and there were an additional 13 tests that were inconclusive, and some players were tested twice and presumably could have come up positive twice, so there's no way there were 104 players as reported and might not even be 83.

Got that?

And Ortiz, well, he kind of forgot about being on the list because he has been tested 15 or more times since, and twice more for the World Baseball Classic, and passed them all, and geez, his life has been a "nightmare" for the last week or so, and he apologized to his fans and teammates and manager for being such a huge distraction because he's Big Papi, and people look at him as someone who not only hits the ball a long way, but also as someone who tries to do things the right way.

"I never buy steroids or used steroids,'' Ortiz said. "… I never thought that buying supplements and vitamins, it was going to hurt anybody's feelings. If that happened, sorry about that.''

And on that, you're just going to have to take Ortiz's word for it, because he doesn't have access to the information that could restore his good name, and well, if there was a bad batch of steroids or supplements he took along the way, he couldn't possibly tell you which one because he doesn't even know what he tested for, and besides he was buying the stuff over the counter in the Dominican and in this country, companies were sending him stuff and he didn't study too many labels, the way you might expect a highly trained, multi-million dollar athlete to do.

"Understand the position the players are in,'' Weiner said. "They're being accused of doing something wrong. They don't know the specifics of what they're being accused of, and they don't have access to any of the information that might help them defend themselves against those charges.''

It is "unfair in the extreme,'' Weiner said, to draw any conclusions about why a player's name is reported to be on the list, because if you don't have reasonable doubt, you should have. And maybe you should, except you know those names aren't on there because these guys are up for some kind of good conduct award.

And you know all of New England wants to believe Ortiz because he is Big Papi, and manager Terry Francona showed up and stood at the side of the stage to show his support, and Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino watched from the back of the room and the team issued a statement commending Ortiz as a team leader, whose actions on and off the field "have earned him respect and a special place in the hearts of Red Sox Nation.'' No acknowledgment from the Boston Baseball Club that the championships won in 2004 and 2007 might be the least bit tainted by the actions of Ortiz or Manny Ramirez(notes), whose name also was reported on the list.

"I'm very proud of the way David handled himself,'' Francona said.

The commissioner's office also released a statement, reiterating that MLB doesn't know the names on the list and thus can't attest to the accuracy of the reporting on the list, and urged caution for anyone looking to draw conclusions. As if there is anybody left who assumes baseball players are anything but guilty until proven innocent.

Francona said Ortiz looked very tired.

"It's been an emotional week,'' the manager said. "He looks spent.''

Which just about explains the condition of any baseball fan trying to navigate his way through this sludge.