Bangor native Matt Kinney wants to set the record straight.
He admitted that he is solely responsible for the 50-game suspension he received from Major League Baseball on Tuesday for testing positive for amphetamines.
“But it was a paperwork error. It was totally my fault. I screwed up. But I’m not a druggie, and I want people to know that,” he said in a phone interview from his Peoria, Ariz. home on Wednesday. “It was an honest mistake.”
He appealed the suspension, but it was upheld.
Kinney said that ever since he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, in 2005, he has been taking the prescription drug Adderall, which is an amphetamine used to treat ailments such as ADHD.
Adderall is a drug that increases alertness and concentration, according to adhdAwareness.com.
In order to avoid suspension, Kinney is required by Major League Baseball to fill out paperwork describing his medical condition and the prescription drugs he is taking. The paperwork is scrutinized by MLB’s medical staff and he can receive a therapeutic use exemption from them, which allows him to play while taking the medication.
Kinney failed to file the paperwork this spring, so when he was tested for drugs, the Adderall showed up in his urine and he was suspended.
Kinney said he had received an exemption every year since 2005 because he had filled out his paperwork and been granted the exemption by the medical staff.
Mike Teevan, MLB’s manager of media relations, said he couldn’t comment on Kinney’s specific case, but explained that even though a player has qualified for an exemption in previous years, he must still submit the necessary paperwork before every season to qualify again.
“Every year, I used to turn in the paperwork two or three weeks before spring training,” said Kinney.
However, he said he hadn’t been offered a contract “until the [San Francisco] Giants called me the day before I had to report to their minor league camp.
“I had just 16 hours before I had to get my physical,” said Kinney. “I was so excited to be getting another opportunity to pitch that I forgot to do the [medical] paperwork.”
Bobby Evans, vice president of baseball operations for the Giants, said he has the utmost respect for Kinney.
“He has always been honest and straight-forward with us, and he’s always been a hard worker,” said Evans, who added he could not divulge any of Kinney’s medical history with the team.
Kinney has taken responsibility for his mistakes in the past, saying he regretted his arrest for operating under the influence of intoxicants in Orono in 1998.
The 33-year-old Kinney hadn’t pitched much this season due to a back problem that he said will result in his retirement. In seven appearances with the Fresno Grizzlies of the Triple A Pacific Coast League, he was 0-2 with a 9.64 earned run average. He has spent much of the season on the disabled list.
“I have seven bulging disks, and I’ve had seven [surgical] procedures on my back,” Kinney said.
But Kinney, a sixth-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox, is leaving the game with a large measure of satisfaction.
“I pitched [in professional baseball] for 16 years, and I’m proud of that. I’ve been durable,” said Kinney. “I achieved more than I thought I would. I just wanted to get to the big leagues.”
The former Bangor High School baseball and basketball star threw 389ª innings for the Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee Brewers, Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants, posting a 19-27 record with a 5.29 earned run average. He had his best season in 2003 when he went 10-13 with the Brewers with a 5.19 ERA. He last pitched in the majors with the Giants in 2005, going 2-0 with a 6.00 ERA.
In recent years, Kinney was 12-10 with a 4.02 ERA for Fresno in 2007, 2-4 with a 4.48 ERA for Seibu in Japan in 2008 and 8-14 with a 5.43 ERA for Fresno in 2009.
Kinney and his wife, Megan, have two sons, three-year-old Maddox and two-year old Mason, and he hopes to get involved in coaching.
“I’ve always enjoyed helping people. Coaching is something I’d love to do,” said Kinney, who added that he has benefited from playing for several top-notch managers and coaches.
Evans said, “If that’s the route he wants to go, he has a bright future.”