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02/13/09 6:50 PM EST

Piniella 'saddened' by A-Rod PED use

Rodriguez's former manager has hope for star, praises MLB's strides

MESA, Ariz. -- Lou Piniella, who was Alex Rodriguez's manager in Seattle from 1994-2000, said he was "saddened" by the news that the infielder used performance-enhancing drugs.

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"We brought [Rodriguez] up as a young pup in Seattle," said Piniella, now the Cubs manager. "We got him up there at age 18, gave him a taste, brought him up the second time, and he became an All-Star.

"It's a shame it happened to him," Piniella said of the revelation that Rodriguez used the drugs while in Texas from 2001-03. "I think the statement he made that getting that huge, huge contract with the Texas Rangers probably put pressure on him to be superhuman, and it turned out to be a big mistake. I hope he's learned from this -- I'm sure he has -- and that he can go on and continue his career and do the great job he's done."

Piniella had not talked to Rodriguez since the news broke earlier this week.

"Baseball has made giant strides in the past few years, and I think the Commissioner and his staff are cleaning up the game and doing it rather quickly," Piniella said. "Let's hope in the next year or two, we can talk about the great competition on the field, the great athletes we have in this business, the Cubs winning a World Series and go from there."

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said he felt players who were clean were not being recognized. There was some speculation that as many as 50 to 70 percent of the players were "cheating," Hendry said. However, if you have 40-man rosters on 30 teams, that's 1,200 players. Half of that is 600. The report was that 104 tested positive in 2003.

"What I feel bad about is people who have played extremely well, done things the right way, played clean, and if you break it down like that, it's three people per club for a 40-man max," Hendry said. "I think what goes unsaid is that the people who have played the game extremely well are lumped into this '50 to 70 percent.' I don't get the math on that. One hundred three compared to 1,200 doesn't equate to 50 percent."

Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano stayed out of the discussion.

"For A-Rod, it's a hard moment," Zambrano said. "He knows how to handle it. It's a new thing for him, and hopefully everything is going well for him. It's not my problem. If he didn't do it, it's not my problem, either.

"I'm just here to talk about the Cubs and my teammates."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.