CLEVELAND -- Troubled Cleveland outfielder Joey Belle spent the last 10 weeks receiving treatment for alcoholism at the Cleveland Clinic and as part of his recovery wants to be known by his given name, Albert Belle.
Belle, who has a history of disciplinary problems, read a statement at a Tuesday news conference at Cleveland Stadium in which he admitted his problems with alcohol helped lead to his temper tantrums.
The team had refused to comment on Belle's status since he was placed on the suspended list June 7 and there had been no mention of Belle having a problem with alcohol before Tuesday's news conference.
'My name is Albert Belle and I have been in treatment for alcoholism at the Cleveland Clinic,' Belle read. 'While in the clinic I discovered that I have had problems with concentration, motivation, attitude and temper. I have found a new way of life through the clinic's program and a 12-step recovery plan.'
Belle's given name is Albert Jojuan Belle and he will be 24 Saturday. Belle spent last winter in Cleveland and the Indians had him see a psychiatrist regularly to try and help him deal with his temper.
'Albert is how he'd like to be referred to from now on,' said team spokesman John Maroon. 'One of the big steps in recovery from alcoholism is that they try to get you to change a big part of your life. Often times it's a name.
'If you're referred to by a nickname as Joey was, you'll just go by your given name.'
One of the few power-hitting prospects in the Cleveland system, Belle made an immediate impact on the club when he was called up from Canton last year, hitting .225 with seven home runs and 37 runs batted in in 62 games.
But problems have followed him throughout his career, beginning at Louisiana State.
Belle started 1990 on the major-league roster, but played sparingly and was sent to AAA Colorado Springs when the roster was reduced to 25 players. Belle was placed on the suspended list June 7 after an incident in Colorado in which he threw a ball into the stands and broke up a sink in the clubhouse.
He was placed in the treatment program soon afterwards.
'On behalf of the Cleveland Indians organization I would like to congratulate Albert on taking this courageous step to realizing a very healthy and productive life,' said director of baseball operations John Hart.
'I would like to stress that the importance of the health of Albert Belle the ballplayer pales in comparison to our concern for Albert Belle the human being.'
Belle will report to Canton Thursday, but is not expected to play in a game for a week to 10 days, if at all. The season ends in two weeks and Belle is not eligible for the playoffs.
At the end of the AA season, the Indians will decide whether or not they want to call Belle up to the major leagues.
Maroon said Belle did not test positive for drugs.
'The feeling is that his problems with concentration, motivation and all that are a direct result of alcohol abuse,' Maroon said.
The second player picked by the Indians in the 1987 June draft, Belle hit 20 homers and drove in 69 runs while hitting .282 at Canton-Akron before being called up on July 15 last year after Cory Snyder was placed on the disabled list with a bad back.
His first major-league hit came in his first at bat as he singled off Nolan Ryan.