When the paramedics arrived Sunday at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, they wanted to know what medications or supplements, if any, Bechler was taking. Orioles officials said strength and conditioning coach Tim Bishop found the Xenadrine bottle in Bechler's locker and handed it to a paramedic, who looked at it and placed it on a table near the training room door.

Amid the chaos, Riley came in, saw the bottle and discarded it into the trash. But the Orioles eventually retrieved it for the paramedics, and it wound up in the medical examiner's office. Perper summoned Riley to the office yesterday, and the young pitcher correctly identified the bottle by a marking he recognized from Bechler's locker.

Even with a cloud hanging over the drug yesterday, Orioles first baseman David Segui defended its use. He said he's tried it before but doesn't use it now because "it makes me shaky." Still, he sees why others use it.

"More athletes use it for energy than to drop pounds," Segui said. "You wake up in the morning and take one or two of those. If you can't take amphetamines, that's your next alternative. It's not like a regular job where you just get up and go. Your body has to function at a certain level to perform at this level every day, and there are days you need a little help.

"I'm not saying it's right or wrong. But there's competition for jobs and your livelihood depends on it. A lot of guys look into certain alternatives that might not be the safest or smartest things for them, but all this pressure mounts. It makes it easier to look into trying those things to give you that edge to get you through the day."

This is what bothers Orioles pitcher Rick Helling, this battle to stay on a level playing field. Helling has been on the players union's executive board for the past five years, and he has been a leading advocate for drug testing, despite union-wide resistance.

Last year, Helling said, the priority was steroids. After signing with the Orioles three days before spring training and watching a new teammate collapse from heatstroke, Helling plans to take a stand against ephedrine, too.

He said the topic undoubtedly will surface the next time the union's executive subcommittee holds a conference call, and he believes Bechler's death could get the policy changed quickly.

"There's no question we'll look at it, but I don't think it's as cut and dried as people might think it should be," Helling said. "When you get into a room with a bunch of lawyers, in their job, there's always a bunch of legal ramifications, and they always try to look at both sides of the issue.

"I can almost tell you right now, the one thing they're going to say is, 'It's over the counter. It's hard to stop people if they want to do it.' "

Still, even though resistance could come from right within his own clubhouse, Helling knows where he stands on ephedrine.

"Although it's legal and it's stuff you can buy over the counter, it's sad to say it's something that may cause problems," Helling said. "The case may be to just take that decision out of the guy's hands. ... It's terrible, but it usually takes something, an incident like this, to change things."