Mitchell Steroids Report as Grim as Expected

Players including prominent New York Yankees Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte were named in former U.S. Senator George Mitchell’s comprehensive report on steroids use in baseball released Thursday afternoon.

The 77 names ran the gamut, as Mitchell wrote in his report, “from players whose major league careers were brief to potential members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. They include both pitchers and position players, and their backgrounds are as diverse as those of all major league players.”

Some of the most prominent players named include Clemens, Giambi and Pettitte, Miguel Tejada, Lenny Dykstra, Juan Gonzalez, and of course, Barry Bonds.

The evidence against players varies widely, from a hearsay case against current Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, to the evidence against former Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca, whose canceled checks and a thank-you note on Dodger Stadium stationary was provided to Mitchell by former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski.

The case against Roger Clemens rests in large part from a written agreement between the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Northern California and Roger Clemens’ longtime trainer, Brian McNamee. He was interviewed three times by Mitchell, and advised that his statements were covered by the agreement.

According to the report, Clemens approached McNamee in June of 1998 about steroids, and began taking them, with McNamee injecting Clemens at his home. Clemens pitched to a 3.55 ERA in the first half of 1998 and a 1.71 ERA during the second half of the season. He struck out 120 batters in 119 innings during the first half; 151 in 115 2/3 in the second half.

After coming to the Yankees, McNamee was then hired by New York at Clemens’ recommendation, according to the report, and was paid both by the team and Clemens himself. Clemens took both steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) on many occasions, according to McNamee.

As for Andy Pettitte, he reportedly approached McNamee about human growth hormone while recovering from elbow tendonitis during the 2002 season. McNamee said he traveled to Tampa, where Pettitte was rehabilitating, and injected him with HGH. Pettitte’s ERA in the first half of 2002 was 4.74—in the second half, 2.70.

The most prominent recent Mets named in the report were Todd Hundley and Lo Duca. Hundley had been a defense-first catcher with the Mets, whose career-high in home runs was 16. After taking steroids that Radmonski promised would allow Hundley to hit 40 home runs, he set the single-season record for home runs by a Met with 41. According to the report, after the season, “Hundley took [Radmonski] out to dinner.”

According to former Hundley teammate Chris Donnels, the two discussed performance-enhancing drugs many times while teammates; Hundley was found in Radmonski’s address book as well when it was seized by Federal agents.

Hundley went on to introduce Radmonski to Lo Duca when Lo Duca played for the Los Angeles Dodgers. According to the report, Radmonski supplied Lo Duca with human growth hormone six or more times. Radmonski supplied Mitchell with checks from Lo Duca, along with the handwritten note of thanks.

The Lo Duca case also provides insight into the level of knowledge front offices had concerning steroid use.

According to handwritten notes from the Los Angeles Dodgers discussing Lo Duca, “Steroids aren’t being used anymore on him. Big part of this. Might have some value to trade . . . Florida might have interest.. . . Got off the steroids . . . Took away a lot of hard line drives.. Can get comparable value back would consider trading. . . . If you do trade him, will get back on the stuff and try to show you he can have a good year. That’s his makeup. Comes to play. Last year of contract, playing for 05.”

According to Mitchell, Clemens, Pettitte, Hundley and Lo Duca all declined to speak with him.

Talking to the press shortly after the report was released, baseball commissioner Bud Selig said he would review each case to determine what punishment would be appropriate; Senator Mitchell’s recommendation was that baseball move on, forsaking penalty in favor of a comprehensive testing plan to prevent future violations. He also said he hadn’t read the report, providing a convenient dodge for questions he preferred not to answer.

Responding to a question about his feelings on the report as a fan of the game, Selig said, “In all candor, let me say that I haven’t read it, I haven’t had a chance to study it fully.” But he added, “Senator Mitchell acknowledges in his report that the ultimate decisions on discipline rest with the Commissioner and he is correct. Discipline of players and others identified in the report will be determined on a case-by-case basis. If warranted, those decisions will be made swiftly and I, of course, will give thorough consideration to Senator Mitchell’s views on the subject.”

Mitchell Steroids Report as Grim as Expected