Cardinals announcer apologizes for remarks on Helton

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals broadcaster Wayne Hagin has apologized for comments implying that Colorado Rockies All-Star first baseman Todd Helton used steroids, an assertion that Helton angrily denied.

In an interview Saturday with St. Louis radio station ESPN 1380, Hagin -- a decade-long broadcaster of Rockies games before coming to St. Louis two years ago -- said of Helton, "I know he tried it because Don Baylor told me. He said to me, 'I told him to get off the juice, that he was a player who didn't need that, get off it."'

Baylor, Helton's former manager with the Rockies, has since said that he was referring to creatine -- a legal over-the-counter supplement -- and not steroids. Baylor told The Denver Post he advised Helton during the player's rookie year in 1998 to stop taking creatine but never discussed steroids with him.

Helton on Monday strongly denied ever using steroids, adding that he has spoken with an attorney about possible legal action against Hagin.

"It's frustrating and disappointing that you have to defend yourself for something you didn't do just because some guy wants to talk to hear himself talk," Helton said.

"I just want to get my side of it told," Helton continued. "He said it was a mistake. Baylor obviously confirmed that wasn't the conversation we had. The guy was wrong. Whether it was a blatant lie or his facts were misunderstood, either way he did a lot of damage to me. I'll never forgive him."

Teammates covered Helton's locker with police tape as a practical joke with a sign reading, "This area closed pending a search for evidence."

Rockies bench coach Jamie Quirk defended Helton.

"Anyone who has ever been around Todd Helton would know that has never entered his mind," Quirk said.

Hagin issued an apology and clarified his statement Sunday on ESPN Radio to say he was referring to supplements like creatine, not steroids. Hagin said there was "no way I would have said Todd was on steroids."

But Post columnist Mark Kiszla wrote Monday that Hagin repeated his story to reporter Mike Klis, saying, "Don Baylor told me he suspected Todd Helton of experimenting with steroids."

A producer for the St. Louis station did not return a telephone call Monday seeking comment.

Cardinals games are carried on St. Louis radio station KMOX, but Hagin is employed by the Cardinals. Dan Farrell, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Cardinals, declined an interview request.

Hagin does not have a listed telephone number, and did not work Monday's spring training game between the Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves in Kissimmee, Fla.

Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said he has forwarded his concerns to his counterpart in St. Louis, Walt Jocketty.

"There is probably not a whole lot he can do, but I wanted to make sure he is aware of what is going on," O'Dowd said. "And I wanted to let him know the kind of position it has put Todd in as a person and us as an organization."

O'Dowd said he felt bad for Hagin, but said, "I think it was real irresponsible and I think if you asked him today he probably feels the same way."

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