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Sure he’s a journeyman, but he’s clean

You want a hero? A rock-solid, no-steroids-injected-in-this-butt player to root for this season? I present to you Sal Fasano, a journeyman catcher whose journey has taken him everywhere and nowhere.

Fasano was with Kansas City for a couple of years. He was with Oakland for parts of two seasons. He was with Anaheim long enough to get one at-bat.

He is now 37 and a non-roster invitee with the Rockies, still chasing the dream of playing in a World Series and still chasing it with only the tools presented to him by God. And those tools are good enough to keep Fasano on the shuttle between triple A and the major leagues and good enough to warrant invites to major league camps each February.

Johnny Bench he is not.

Neither is he Alex Rodriguez, who goes face-to-face with the New York media today in Tampa. What a circus that will be.

You’ll never see Fasano’s name on any list of steroid users, because he said he doesn’t use them.

Sure, lots of players say they don’t use them, even the players who are caught using them. But Fasano’s career tends to support his claim. He’s a .221 career hitter with 47 home runs in 427 big league games spread across 11 seasons.

How easy would it have been for Fasano to reach for a performance enhancer or two to enhance his performance?

Very easy, actually.

In a story published in last August’s Reader’s Digest, Fasano recounted a conversation he had with his younger brother, Mike, a one-time professional power lifter who mentioned steroids as a means for Fasano to obtain his big league dreams.

Fasano was with the A’s at the time and noticed the difference in his teammates from one season to the next. They got bigger. How’d they do that? Mike knew.

According to the Reader’s Digest story, Fasano thought about Mike’s suggestion but eventually replied, “Mike, 10 years from now I’m gonna have to look at myself in the mirror, and I’m gonna ask myself whether I did it the right way. I might be a fool, but I have to be true to myself.”

Eight years after that answer, Fasano was a backup catcher in Triple A, grooming the Braves catcher of the future.

Fasano was a 37th round pick in 1993 and has played for 24 minor and major league teams. He spent the spring of 2002 with the Rays, entertaining teammates with his Joe Pesci impersonation. Go head, tell Fasano that you think he’s funny.

The Rays sent him to Triple A Durham then released him on June 1.

Fasano is 6-foot-2 and weighs more than his listed 225. He wears a fu manchu mustache. He develops a fan club everywhere he plays. His teammates love him because he places the team ahead of his own goals. Need him to catch the pitchers in the bullpen? Sure. Need him at Triple A to develop a young catcher? Glad to help.

Nine catchers were named in the Mitchell Report, including two who beat out Fasano for spots on Opening Day rosters. How easy would it have been for Sal to give Mike a call?

In the Reader’s Digest story, Fasano described his career as a “disappointment,” because he never got the big contract.

I’m not so sure I agree. There are plenty of ways to be a disappointment in this game. Doing it the right way isn’t one of them.

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