Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Rev links to this New York Daily News article about a Dominican trainer named Angel Presinal, who in 2001 may or may not have been the owner of a bag that may or may not have contained illegal steroids intended for use by Juan Gonzalez. Presinal is currently a trainer to Bartolo Colon, and according to the article has worked with several Dominican players, including Vladimir Guerrero, Ervin Santana, Kelvim Escobar (yes, I know he's Venezuelan), Jose Guillen, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Miguel Tejada ... the list goes on and on.

The facts, as best can be assembled, are as follows:

  • In what appears to be the first week of October, 2001, the Cleveland Indians flew into Toronto to play the Blue Jays.

  • Agents of the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) noted and searched an unmarked bag which contained "five ampules of anabolic steroids, pills of the anabolic drug clenbuterol, along with hypodermic needles."

  • The CBSA agents, after notifying Toronto police and Indian personnel, allowed the bag to travel with the team to its hotel, so that it could be seen who claimed the bag.

  • The bag was claimed by Angel Presinal, who said that the bag and its contents belonged to Juan Gonzalez, whom he served as personal trainer.

  • CBSA agents questioned Presinal and Gonzalez for four hours, after which point they concluded that they did not have sufficient evidence to link the bag to either. The bag was confisacated and Presinal and Gonzalez went about their business.

  • Presinal's employ with Gonzalez subsequently came to an end.

  • Four months later, Major League Baseball notified the resident security agents (RSAs) at each of the 30 ballparks that Presinal would not be allowed into any restricted area, i.e. anywhere "the general public [can't] go."

    Even the facts listed above are somewhat disputed; the article quotes a statement issued by Gonzalez's representation to the effect that Presinal was the owner of the bag and that even "[t]o this day [Gonzalez is] not aware of its contents." In the meantime, Presinal denies that the bag contained steroids at all (though the CBSA's seizure report lists another anabolic, which has since been banned by MLB).

    Here is an interesting passage:
    MLB's official report says Presinal eventually admitted ownership of the bag, although the CBSA report does not say that, and Presinal denies it. Cleveland officials also say they have no recollection of Presinal saying the bag was his. But even given MLB's official stance that Presinal was the culprit in the incident, [MLB vice president for business and labor Rob] Manfred expresses some sympathy: Among Los Angeles, Cleveland and even some MLB personnel, there is wide agreement that Presinal may have unfairly taken the entire blame.

    "He took the fall, no question," says Cleveland media relations director Bart Swain.
    An MLB executive speaking on the condition of anonymity says MLB checked out all the players Presinal has been associated with, and that none has tested positive for illegal performance enhancers, although several of his clients have been suspected over the years. Presinal also has never been connected to another doping-related incident.
    Presinal currently has a close relationship with Bartolo Colon, which was chronicled in a Bill Shaikin article in the LA Times last year.

    I can see how this might raise the concern of some, and if I worked in the Angel front office I would certainly start asking some questions to make sure everything's okay, but I would say the evidence that Presinal is a "drug peddler" or that his players would be taking banned substances is phenomonally slim at this juncture. To paint everyone Presinal has worked with as suspicious is to paint suspicion with a broad brush; the Daily News article lists at least fifteen current Latin major league players that have worked with Presinal, which doesn't count several players that were on the Dominican roster for the World Baseball Classic, a clubhouse that welcomed Presinal. In fact, his reputation on "the island" is, as reported here, impeccable.

    Right now, I see nothing to worry about. Could other revelations surface? Of course. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

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