Besides closely monitoring its players and offering help from baseball's employee assistance program, the club had no other recourse, especially before league-wide drug testing, Beattie said.

"We continually had conversations with our medical staff ... about if they had any suspicions and, if they did suspect anybody, what we could do about it," Beattie said. "In most clubhouses, you are talking about one, two or three that might be suspected, but certainly not six, seven or eight."

Because of baseball's itinerant nature, several of those implicated in the reports, such as Segui, Grimsley and Matthews, have played with multiple teams. That's why current Orioles first baseman Kevin Millar said it's unfair for one club to be branded as a steroid home.

"This isn't about the Orioles organization. It's ludicrous how people say that," Millar said. "This is a whole witch hunt. That's what it is."

Not a steroid club
Orioles outfielder , who is with his sixth big league club, said he was unfazed by one team's having so many links to the drug scandals. It wasn't as if Payton, while playing elsewhere, viewed the Orioles as the majors' steroid club.

"I never really paid a whole lot of attention to where the names were coming from. I'd just see another name get thrown out and say, 'There's another guy,'" Payton said. "I didn't really think too much about the fact that it was four or five guys from the same team."

That one club - whether it's the 2004 Orioles or another - has been cited in a rash of reports doesn't surprise Payton.

"After you think about it, it kind of makes sense. There's usually a common link," he said. "If one guy is doing it, he's probably supplying more than one guy on the team. That's basically what it comes down to, I guess."

Yet when one team is continually linked to the controversies, it can undeniably be a distraction, said Mora, who remembers life in the 2005 pennant race after the Palmeiro story broke.

"Everybody was thinking about steroids. They weren't thinking about the game," Mora said. "I was like, 'OK, this is not good.'"

dan.connolly@baltsun.com