APNewsBreak: Astros prospect details drug struggle

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Houston Astros’ Jon Singleton watches his hit during a spring training baseball workout, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, in Viera, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Houston Astros’ Jon Singleton watches his hit during a spring training baseball workout, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014, in Viera, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Atlanta Braves’ Cedric Hunter, left, gets back to first in time as Houston Astros first baseman Jon Singleton waits for the ball in the sixth inning of a spring exhibition baseball game on Sunday, March 2, 2014, in Kissimmee, Fla. The Astros won 7-4. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Houston Astros’ Jon Singleton fields a ground ball during a spring training baseball workout, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Houston Astros’ Adron Chambers (1) and Jon Singleton (13) watch as catcher Jason Castro (15) bats, during a spring training baseball workout, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Houston Astros’ Jonathan Meyer, left, Brett Wallace, Jon Singleton, and Marc Krauss wait their turn at bat, during a spring training baseball workout, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Jon Singleton is considered the top first base prospect in baseball — a big, dynamic left-handed hitter with power and composure who can use the entire field.

He’s one of the players expected to help the Houston Astros back to respectability after three straight 100-loss seasons.

All that despite a couple of very public setbacks. And for the first time publicly, he’s opening up about his battle with an addiction to marijuana and monthlong stay at a rehabilitation center.

“At this point it’s pretty evident to me that I’m a drug addict,” he told The Associated Press over breakfast on a recent day near the Astros’ camp. “I don’t openly tell everyone that, but it’s pretty apparent to myself.”

Vividly so.

“I know that I enjoy smoking weed, I enjoy being high and I can’t block that out of my mind that I enjoy that,” he said. “So I have to work against that.”

He’s steadfastly avoided discussing this subject for more than a year. But on this morning he shares his story with disarming candor and ease, never once bristling at the increasingly prying questions.

The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Singleton — he’s listed as Jonathan, but says he prefers Jon — sits up straight in a small booth, adjusts the baseball cap he’s wearing backward and fills in the details of his private struggle.

The 22-year-old says he has stopped using marijuana and is better now. He’s determined to rebound from a season that was all but lost because of his addiction and make his major league debut.

General manager Jeff Luhnow said Singleton could start the season with the Astros, but it’s too early to know for sure. Singleton has been playing in the big league spring training games.

“He’s still young and still learning both about baseball and about life,” Luhnow said.

It’s no secret that Singleton, acquired by Houston from the Phillies in the 2011 trade for Hunter Pence, has had issues with marijuana. He was suspended for the first 50 games of last season for a second failed drug test. Back then, it was simply characterized as a mistake, or “a lapse in judgment” as his statement said.

That certainly wasn’t the real story.

His first positive test came in June 2012 and he said he quit using marijuana for the rest of the season. He went on to hit .284 with 21 homers and 79 RBIs in his first season in Double-A.

At season’s end, he went to the Arizona Fall League and quickly fell back into old habits.

He knew his situation was dire when he failed a second test in December 2012, but he continued to get high every single day.

The 50-game suspension came a month later and he was summoned to Houston to meet with manager Bo Porter and to see a therapist, who evaluated him for addiction. It was evident to him that he needed help.

Singleton was immediately admitted for a monthlong stay at an inpatient rehabilitation center.

“I knew I had a problem,” he said. “Even after I failed the second drug test I couldn’t stop smoking weed. It was really bad. Me going there was definitely the best move.”

He didn’t feel that way when he first entered. Fearing the unknown, he says he didn’t sleep for three days straight.

“They would turn off the lights at 11:30 and I would just sit there and stare at the ceiling because I couldn’t go to sleep,” he said. “My heart was beating too fast. I would get night sweats. It was bad. I legitimately went through withdrawal.”

Singleton desperately wanted to leave and wasn’t open to the recovery process.

“But after I was there for so long it just grew on me,” he said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to be here for 30 days, so I might as well get the best out of it that I can.’ I used it as a learning experience.”

At a time when he should have been getting in shape for spring training and a chance to make Houston’s major league roster, he instead spent his days attending classes and therapy sessions with other addicts in a program for young adults.

One thing he didn’t do: Dwell on his missed opportunity.

“Not so much, because I knew I got myself into the situation so I had to deal with it,” he said. “It wasn’t like, ‘I got myself here, now I hate myself.’ It was like: ‘I got myself here so I can’t be mad at anybody but myself.'”

Though just 21 when he entered rehab, he’d already had a long history with marijuana, using the drug “on and off” since 14. He blamed his start on the culture growing up in Long Beach, Calif., where he estimated 80 percent of his friends not only knew where to get marijuana, but also how to get

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