New York Jason Giambi can concentrate on hitting instead of testifying.
The New York Yankees slugger was excused from appearing at Thursday's congressional hearing on steroids in baseball, and the top Democrat on the committee said it was possible other players also could have subpoenas withdrawn.
Giambi does not have to go to Washington because of his involvement in the ongoing federal investigation into illegal steroid distribution, House Government Reform committee chairman Rep. Tom Davis and ranking Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman said Tuesday. Giambi testified in 2003 before a grand jury probing the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, and the San Francisco Chronicle reported in December that he admitted before that panel that he had used steroids.
"I appeared in front of the federal grand jury a year ago. I answered every question, told the truth and cooperated fully," Giambi said in a statement released by his agent. "I appreciate that the members of the committee evaluated my situation, and I will now continue to focus on playing the best baseball I possibly can."
BALCO founder Victor Conte, BALCO vice president James Valente, Barry Bonds' trainer Greg Anderson, and track coach Remi Korchemny were indicted in the case, and trial dates have not yet been scheduled. A hearing was postponed Tuesday, with Anderson's lawyer saying her client would prefer a deal.
Bonds and Gary Sheffield, who also testified before the grand jury, were not among the seven current and former players subpoenaed by the committee last week.
In a letter sent to the committee accompanying more than 400 pages of documents Monday, baseball executive vice president Rob Manfred said just 12 of 1,133 tests last year were positive, and that positive tests from nandrolone dropped from 73 in 2003 to one last year.
Davis and Waxman waited until Tuesday evening to make the announcement on Giambi.
"From the outset, we have said that we in no way wanted our inquiry to impede or complicate any ongoing investigations by law enforcement," they said in a joint statement. "Upon hearing today from the Justice Department that Mr. Giambi's appearance could do just that, we have decided to excuse him from testifying. All other invited witnesses, however, will be expected to comply with the subpoenas issued to them last week."
Former AL MVP Jose Canseco, whose recent book accuses several players of steroid use, also was subpoenaed along with Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Frank Thomas and Curt Schilling. Lawyers for Giambi, Palmeiro and Thomas sent the committee letters Monday asking that their clients be excused, citing Giambi's prior testimony and the adverse effects travel would have on Thomas' recovery from an ankle injury.
"It's still a dynamic process," Waxman said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "We're still talking to the different subpoenaed witnesses. Until you hear otherwise, we expect them there. I expect everybody to be there. And the only reason Giambi is being excused is the Justice Department's request that he not testify because it might interfere with other ongoing investigations they're doing."
Luke Macaulay, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, would not comment on the decision to excuse Giambi.
Waxman said he and Davis would not try to get players to implicate others.