Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Bottoms Up? | Todd Zolecki files a bizarre -- and, if true, disturbing -- story in today's Inquirer stating that a Nicaraguan newspaper has reported that Phillies starter Vicente Padilla is "destroying himself" with booze:

The story, written by Nicaraguan sportswriter and broadcaster Xavier Araquistain, which a Dominican Republic newspaper also picked up, asserts that the Phillies have concerns about Padilla's alleged drinking.

"The management of the club knows of his behavior off the field and has told him that he should improve," the story claimed. "... Because of his behavior, the Phillies still have not acted to give him a long-term contract."

Padilla's agent and Phillies assistant GM Ruben Amaro, Jr., acknowledge that Padilla drinks, but deny that he has a problem with alcohol. But as a guy who occasionally engages in damage control, I sense just a whiff of something there. Maybe it's just me, but Amaro's denials, in particular, don't feel sufficiently emphatic to squash any possibility of truth to the rumor. Here's what he told Zolecki:

"There's nothing to comment on," Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "There's no basis for us to make any comments. To my knowledge, neither Ed [Wade] nor I have ever spoken to anybody in either of those countries about Vicente Padilla, so for them to make those kinds of comments is basically hearsay."

I just don't know. I hope, hope, hope that this is as simple as bad journalism. But if it isn't, I hope that Padilla can dry out and get his head on straight.


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