WASHINGTON (AP) – Still trying to figure out whether Rafael Palmeiro lied under oath about using steroids, Congress wants to hear what other players might know.

The House Government Reform Committee is interviewing major leaguers connected to the Baltimore Orioles slugger, including a Colorado outfielder suspended this year for failing a drug test.

A congressional source familiar with the committee’s work, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said Monday that “several active players” have spoken or will speak with the committee about Palmeiro. That source would not identify who was interviewed.

But Colorado Rockies outfielder Jorge Piedra told AP on Monday that he spoke on the phone with the committee.

He said investigators contacted him through his agent about a week ago, found out “all they wanted to know” in a matter of minutes and didn’t plan to contact him again.

Piedra, the second player publicly identified under the sport’s new steroid rules when he was suspended for 10 days in April, said the committee “had a few questions, and I just answered them honestly.”

“I told them I didn’t have anything to do with Palmeiro,” Piedra said after the Rockies played the Padres in Denver. “We only worked out a few times together.”

Palmeiro was the seventh to be identified publicly, and he was by far the most accomplished – one of only four players in baseball history to collect at least 3,000 hits and 500 homers.

The congressional source indicated that players asked recently to talk to the committee were chosen because they have relationships with Palmeiro, such as teammates or workout partners, and could have knowledge about whether he might have used steroids before his testimony.

“I guess they were searching to see if we had discussed anything concerning enhancement drugs,” Piedra said. “But we didn’t. He’s kind of a veteran. I’m kind of a rookie.”

Piedra said it was difficult to talk to investigators about another player.

“He is one of the greatest players,” Piedra said. “Obviously, I’m not going to condemn him for something I’ve done too. Whether he took something or he didn’t, he’s still one of the best to ever step on the field.”

On March 17, Palmeiro appeared before the House Government Reform Committee alongside Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, pointed his finger for emphasis and declared:

“I have never used steroids. Period.”

When baseball announced his suspension Aug. 1, Palmeiro stood by his statements to Congress, saying he didn’t know what caused the test result.

When he rejoined the Orioles after his ban, Palmeiro said he would not speak about the case until Congress concludes its perjury investigation.

He had just two hits in 26 at-bats after returning and was booed by spectators at Baltimore and on the road.

Palmeiro hasn’t played since Aug. 30; he went home to Texas to rehabilitate knee and ankle injuries.

Palmeiro has not been interviewed by the committee since he was suspended, but he did agree to allow Major League Baseball to turn over his test results and other documents to Congress, and the committee has praised him for being cooperative.

It doesn’t appear likely that the Government Reform panel will hold another hearing on steroids in the near future because its chairman, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) will be running hearings on the response to Hurricane Katrina.

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