Cust questions source behind his inclusion in Mitchell report

Oakland Athletics designated hitter Jack Cust seems puzzled by two particular aspects of his inclusion in former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell's report on doping in Major League Baseball.

One, that he was accused of using steroids. And two, that he apparently was assigned a locker beside former minor league teammate Larry Bigbie -- the source behind Cust winding up in the report.

In his first public remarks, Cust told Bay Area media that he has never used performance-enhancing substances.

"No. No. Not even one game," he said Saturday.

Cust then challenged the information Bigbie gave in a conversation with Mitchell's investigators.

"At the beginning of the 2003 season, Cust and Larry Bigbie were both playing for Baltimore's Class AAA affiliate in Ottawa," the report, released Dec. 14, read. "Bigbie's locker was next to Cust's. Cust eventually asked Bigbie if he had ever tried steroids. Bigbie acknowledged he had, and Cust said that he, too, had tried steroids.

"Cust told Bigbie that he had a source who could procure anything he wanted, but Bigbie informed him he already had a friend who could supply him," according to the report.

Speaking Saturday at the A's annual FanFest, Cust said the circumstances surrounding his inclusion in the report were "unfair," adding he doesn't remember speaking with Bigbie about steroids and that the two were not locker neighbors while playing for Ottawa.

"He was a teammate of mine five years ago and we haven't talked since," Cust said. "I don't remember any conversations about [steroids]. He might have misinterpreted something I said, but I don't remember anything.

"I read the report, and he said he had the locker next to me. I didn't have a locker next to him. I don't know how something like that gets misinterpreted, but I haven't talked to him in five years. ... A lot of people say the same thing, that it seems weird my name is in there when there were other cases where there was a lot more [evidence] accrued."

Cust said he followed the players' union's advice and did not speak to Mitchell's investigators.

"I had nothing to hide," Cust said, "but they advised me not to talk, because then they try to get something on other guys you've played with."

Cust, a veteran minor leaguer, provided Oakland with a great source of power last season with 26 home runs and 82 RBIs in 395 at-bats.

Cust, 29, joined the A's last May in a trade from San Diego. Prior to carving out the full-time role at DH, he had 144 at-bats in the majors -- and only three with the Padres in 2006.

"The people who have played with me know I work harder than anyone else," Cust said Saturday, "and people who've known me my whole life know I've had power my whole career. Hopefully, people stand by me. People have opinions but it's important to me to make this a positive thing and be a positive influence."

A's general manager Billy Beane told the San Francisco Chronicle that he spoke to Cust about the Mitchell report this winter and that he was satisfied with his player's answers.