TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -There were hugs all around for Colorado Rockies reliever Matt Herges when the NL champions gathered for spring training Friday.
``We've got your back,'' pitcher Aaron Cook assured the 37-year-old reliever, the only current Rockies player named in the Mitchell report on drugs in baseball.
Herges' apology this week for using performance-enhancing drugs earned him support, but a penalty could await.
``I'm praying there's no suspension,'' Herges said. ``But if there is, that's the price I have to pay.''
For cheating - and for coming clean.
``Some people told me not to admit anything or I'd be opening myself up to a suspension,'' Herges said. ``But I had to come out and tell people what I had done. It was a risk I was willing to take. I feel free now.''
ely allowed him to clear his conscious.
``I've gotten hugs from everybody,'' Herges said. ``I don't deserve it but I'm grateful for it.''
Herges said general manager Dan O'Dowd called him to say he was proud of how he had stood up and taken ownership of his mistakes.
``I can't tell you how incredible that feels,'' Herges said of O'Dowd's call.
Herges confirmed that he was involved in steroid use in 1999 while in the Los Angeles Dodgers' farm system and that he had used human growth hormone in 2004-05.
``I'm sure everyone has their own reason, but I think initially it was: This is what I've dreamed about being my whole life and what can I do to attain it?'' Herges said. ``Which is so wrong. And that's the youth need to understand: Don't be as insecure as I was to try to attain what you've always dreamed of doing. If I had never taken anything, I could still be a seven-year major league player.
``Even if this had never come out, what I was carrying around, it was eating away at me. That's not a secret you want to hold, especially from your wife, from your family, from teammates, from the fans.''
Herges said he was clean last year, when he played a key role in the Rockies' historic run to their first World Series. He went 5-1 with a 2.96 ERA in 35 games, which he parlayed into a one-year, $2.5 million contract.
mates and coaches have, too.
``I haven't seen a face that's reserved at all,'' Herges said. ``It's all been great. You can see it in their eyes. I've come across people this winter who are just a little leery. But here, it's been different. Cookie told me, 'We've got your back.' And not that they support what I've done, but since I've come clean, it's like, 'OK, we've got your back now. Let's get on with it.'
``When people see someone broken and they see humility about it, I think people appreciate that,'' Herges said. ``I think that's what people want. I think that's what our country wants. People are like, 'Just admit, show that you're sorry, legitimately, and we'll forgive you.'
It's not empathy Herges sought but peace of mind.
``I did this because I needed to do this. No matter what the penalty, I was still going to admit it and apologize. I'm just hoping and praying that there's no penalty.''
Rockies first base coach Glenallen Hill also was named in the Mitchell Report and issued a written apology on Wednesday. Herges had left the Hi Corbett Field by the time Hill arrived Friday afternoon.
``I look forward to seeing him,'' Herges said. ``And kind of extending to him what I've been extended, and that's probably a nice, big hug.''

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