Mar 17 2009
Travis “Pronk” Hafner entered Major League Baseball with the body of a middle linebacker. Last year, a weakened right shoulder put him on the disabled list, which eventually led to arthroscopic surgery. Over the winter, Hafner lost 10 pounds. Now, after Alex Rodriguez’s recent admission of steroid use during his days with the Rangers, the press is wondering if Hafner was one of those who used steroids when he was with his old Texas team. One reporter asked Hafner point-blank if he had used steroids, which Hafner called an “awkward” interview. Hafner told the reporter that he had never used steroids but wasn’t so sure if anyone would believe him anyway. These days, a denial isn’t really worth anything as more and more athletes who have before denied ever touching steroids are finally admitting to having used the tuff, or are being found out to have used performance enhancing drugs.
The steroid era has created a stigma in the sport and even the most believable baseball players and the most determined of denials are now met with suspicion and a roll of the eyes. Now, a lot of fans assume that most, if not all, baseball players who came from the steroid era used performance-enhancing drugs at some point just to keep their edge and survive the pressure and competition.
Hafner knows this stigma all too well and that is why he felt uncomfortable with being questioned about whether he took steroids or not. He knows how his denial came across the public as he has seen similar denials in TV from notorious ballplayers such as Rafael Palmiero’s testimony in front of Congress in 2005 and Alex Rodriguez’s 2007 interview with Katie Couric in the show, “60 Minutes.” Hafner says that it gives him peace of mind to know that he did things the right way but he also acknowledges that it is almost pointless to try and defend his self nowadays.
Whether the public believes whether Hafner is telling the truth or not, there is still no escaping the suspicion that all baseball players who displayed a lot of productivity and power in the game before Major League Baseball officially began testing for steroid-use may have used performance-enhancing drugs to stay ahead of the game. Hafner had a point when he said that “You almost feel like you have to defend yourself, even through there’s no reason to.”
Travis Hafner first entered Major League Baseball in August of 2002 as part of the Texas Rangers. His teammates included Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez, who both tested positive for steroids, as well as Ivan Rodriguez and Juan Gonzalez, who were alleged by former teammate Jose Canseco to have used steroids. To a lot of people, these coincidences are enough to put doubt on Hafner. Hafner, however, claims that he barely got to know his teammates as he only had a brief tenure with the Rangers and was traded to the Indians the following winter. He said that being a young guy and a rookie then, he wasn’t exposed to anything.