September 2005 - Baltimore Orioles Wiretap
"Don't You Get It?"
Pressed by Sen. John McCain to say when Major League Baseball will have a new steroids agreement with harsher penalties, union head Donald Fehr told Congress on Wednesday he thinks it could happen within a month. Fehr, baseball commissioner Bud Selig and officials from the National Football League, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League were called before the Senate Commerce Committee to discuss two proposed Senate bills that would standardize drug policies across sports. Three similar bills have been introduced in the House. The focus during the two-hour hearing, though, was on baseball -- much as has been the case since the House Government Reform Committee grilled Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Selig, Fehr and others about steroids on March 17. Palmeiro, who emphatically told Congress that day he had never used steroids, was suspended Aug. 1 after failing a drug test. Five weeks after that hearing, Selig proposed toughening baseball's penalties, and five Hall of Famers, including career home run leader Hank Aaron, testified Wednesday in support of that plan. Fehr made public a less-tough counteroffer this week. McCain wanted to know why the process has moved so slowly, asking Fehr repeatedly: "Don't you get it?" "We're at the end here, and I don't want to do it, but we need an agreement soon. It's not complicated. It's not complicated. All sports fans understand it," McCain said. "I suggest you act and you act soon."
Players Offer Stiffer Penalty On Steroids
Baseball players offered to accept a stiffer penalty for first-time steroid offenders -- 20 games instead of 10 days -- along with agreeing to amphetamine tests, but their proposal Monday still fell short of what commissioner Bud Selig wanted. In an April 25 letter to the union, Selig called for a 50-game suspension for an initial positive test, a 100-game ban for second-time offenders and a lifetime ban for a third violation. Union head Donald Fehr's response said Selig's proposal was meant to quiet criticisms of baseball's current policy, not deter steroid use. "We share your concern about the criticism our program has received, and, in response, the players have demonstrated, several times now, their willingness to take all reasonable measures in response," Fehr wrote.
Sosa 'Doubtful' To Return To Team This Season
Sammy Sosa's unproductive season with the Baltimore Orioles is apparently over. Orioles vice president Jim Beattie said Saturday that it's "doubtful" Sosa will return to the team from his Miami home, where the outfielder has been rehabilitating a toe injury since Sept. 7. "Obviously the further along it gets, the harder it is to bring him back," Beattie said. "We've been calling and talking to him, and we just have to see where he is the next day or so."
Orioles Tell Raffy He Is No Longer Welcome On The Club
Rafael Palmeiro's tumultuous season came to an end Friday when the Baltimore Orioles, tired of the distraction stemming from his suspension for steroids, told him he was no longer welcome on the team. The decision came on the same day Palmeiro was scheduled to return from spending time at home rehabilitating his right knee and left ankle. But the Orioles figured it was best they cut their ties for now. "He wanted to come back and play, but I think in this instance we had to do what we felt was best for the rest of the players out there," Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie said. The abrupt end to Palmeiro's season came one day after it was learned that he cited a vitamin he received from teammate Miguel Tejada as possibly causing the positive steroid test. "I know I'm clean. I'm not guilty," Tejada said before the Orioles played the Red Sox. "I use the same thing, and I've been checked for steroids three times."
Palmeiro Blames Vitamin Tejada Gave Him
Rafael Palmeiro cited a vitamin he received from Baltimore Orioles teammate Miguel Tejada as possibly causing the positive test for steroid use that led to the first baseman's suspension. Tejada dismissed the assertion made by Palmeiro as implausible. Palmeiro said he received vitamin B-12 from Tejada, a person familiar with Palmeiro's unsuccessful grievance hearing to overturn the suspension said Thursday on condition of anonymity because the proceedings were secret. ``Right now I'm in shock,'' Tejada, a former American League MVP, said after Baltimore lost to the New York Yankees on Thursday night. ``I've never given anybody steroids before,'' he said. ``I've been checked out three times already, and I'm clean. I've been clean all my life.'' Tejada said he gave Palmeiro the B-12 injection ``a long time ago.'' ``It doesn't bother me because I'm not guilty. I've done nothing wrong. I just gave him B-12, and B-12 is legal,'' Tejada said. ``You don't get caught for B-12.''
Did A Teammate Give Palmeiro The Banned Substance?
A congressional committee is investigating whether another Orioles player gave Rafael Palmeiro a substance that might be linked to the first baseman's positive steroid test, according to people familiar with the investigation. The scenario of Palmeiro receiving a substance from a teammate was described by Palmeiro himself in closed-door proceedings before a three-member baseball arbitration panel earlier this year as he presented his steroid defense, one source said. A second source confirmed the account and that Palmeiro had identified the teammate by name. The sources declined to be identified because the congressional investigation is ongoing. The House Government Reform Committee -- as part of its investigation of whether Palmeiro lied six months ago when he testified that he never used steroids -- has been trying to determine whether Palmeiro's story has merit. The committee is interviewing people who, sources said yesterday, include members of the Orioles -- including Palmeiro himself -- and Richie Bancells, the club's head athletic trainer.
Roberts Dislocates Left Elbow
Brian Roberts left Baltimore's loss to the New York Yankees in the second inning Tuesday night with a dislocated left elbow, ending a breakout season for the All-Star second baseman. Roberts was covering first base after New York's Bubba Crosby bunted with Bernie Williams on second. First baseman B.J. Surhoff rushed in to field the bunt and his throw to Roberts arrived at about the same time Crosby did. Crosby crashed into Roberts' outstretched left arm, snapping it back. Roberts dropped the ball and went to the ground in tremendous pain, allowing Williams to jog home from third. "Nobody really knew what to do," Surhoff said. "Bernie didn't, Crosby didn't, I didn't. After a little while it was pretty obvious something was wrong."
Congress To Interview Players To Determine Whether Palmeiro Lied
Congressional investigators looking into whether Rafael Palmeiro lied under oath are interviewing players who know him, including a Colorado outfielder suspended this year for steroids. Palmeiro testified to the House Government Reform Committee in March that he never had used steroids. The Baltimore Orioles slugger, one of four players in history with 3,000 hits and 500 homers, was suspended by Major League Baseball for 10 days in August for failing a drug test. A congressional source familiar with the committee's work, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said Monday that several active players have spoken or will speak with the committee. That source would not identify who was interviewed. But Colorado Rockies outfielder Jorge Piedra told The Associated Press 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."
Raffy Will Rejoin Club For Final Homestand
Rafael Palmeiro is expected to rejoin the Baltimore Orioles for their final homestand, although he will see limited action after being sidelined at home in Texas with knee and ankle injuries. Palmeiro's season unraveled after he received a 10-day suspension on Aug. 1, for testing positive for steroids. He went 2-for-26 with one RBI after his return, and the Orioles sent him home on Sept. 5 to rehab his right knee and left ankle. Palmeiro has not played since Aug. 30, in Toronto. "I'm under the impression that he would like to be here at least for the last homestand," interim manager Sam Perlozzo said Friday. "He's getting better, mentally and physically." Perlozzo, who spoke to Palmeiro while the Orioles were in Texas this week, said, "He wants to be here with the team. He wants to finish. Unless he changes his mind in the next week, I would expect him to be here." The Orioles close out their home schedule with a pair of three-game series, against Boston and New York, Sept. 23-29.
Raffy The Liar Sent Home
Rafael Palmeiro was sent home to Texas to rehabilitate knee and ankle injuries, leaving his baseball future unclear during a season in which he was suspended for a positive steroids test. Palmeiro's season unraveled soon after he collected his 3,000th career hit on July 15. He received a 10-day suspension on Aug. 1 for failing a drug test, and upon his return was booed by fans in Baltimore and on the road. He is 2-for-26 with one RBI since coming back, and has been bothered the past two weeks by injuries to his left ankle and right knee. The Orioles still expect him to play this month, but decided Monday that the first baseman should go home to recover. "It is in his and the Orioles best interests for Palmeiro to stay off the knee as much as possible to allow it to heal completely," the team said in statement. "At the same time, remaining with the team while unable to play has created an unnecessary distraction for both Palmeiro and the ballclub."
Cashman Waits On Ponson
GM Brian Cashman said it was too early in the process to formulate an opinion whether the Yankees would be interested in Sidney Ponson, who was released by the Orioles yesterday.
Ponson Released, Contact Voided
Sidney Ponson was released Thursday by the Orioles, who voided the pitcher's contract on the theory that his behavior over the past nine months gave them grounds for his dismissal.