The Orioles are being pulled back into baseball's steroid controversy, but it's their past, not their present, that reportedly is under scrutiny.
In today's editions, The New York Times reports that the club has been asked to send the medical records of former team members David Segui, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Jason Grimsley and Fernando Tatis to the players. Those players will be asked to authorize release of the records to a group headed by former Sen. George Mitchell. Mitchell is leading a yearlong investigation into steroid use in baseball.
The Times, citing an anonymous baseball official, also reports that the Orioles were not asked to release the medical records of current players Miguel Tejada, Jay Gibbons and Brian Roberts. The official said their exclusion showed a lack of evidence against those three players.
The Los Angeles Times reported last year that the three current Orioles were named in a 2006 federal affidavit that detailed Grimsley's admission of steroid and human growth hormone use after a search of his Arizona home.
"Like I said last year, I am not going to waste my time talking about it," Gibbons said when reached at home after the Orioles' 8-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays last night.
Executive vice president Mike Flanagan also declined to offer details about the Orioles' involvement in the investigation, and vice president Jim Duquette wouldn't comment.
"We are not supposed to comment on the Mitchell investigation," Flanagan said. "We ... have cooperated with it."
Reached last night on his cell phone, Segui said he didn't know anything about the request and hasn't been following the investigation.
"What are you going to find in my records, my height and weight? What's that going to show them?" he said. "I don't even know what's in my records. A lot of cortisone shots. I don't even know how you're supposed to comment on this. I'm not concerned about it. I don't know what there is to be concerned about."
Segui said he hasn't been approached by the Orioles seeking permission to release his records, and he's not sure if he'd allow it.
"I would have to think about it," he said. "I mean, what's in there that they'd want to see? What purpose would that serve? That's what confuses me about this whole thing. I don't even know what's in my records. I don't know what in there would be pertinent to the investigation. I don't think there would be any harm, but I also don't think that it's anyone's business. That could open a door ... there's a privacy issue here."
Several people within the organization - including Duquette, Flanagan, director of minor league operations David Stock- still, manager Sam Perlozzo and pitching coach Leo Mazzone - met with members of Mitchell's staff last June. Investigators returned about a month later and talked with hitting coach Terry Crowley and former strength and conditioning coach Tim Bishop, according to baseball sources.
Orioles officials maintained that they didn't think the club was being targeted, even though many of the alleged steroid users in media reports have ties to the organization. However, The New York Times is reporting that Mitchell's staff has searched the computers of at least six members of the Orioles' front office and training staff, looking for evidence relating to performance-enhancing drugs.
Orioles media relations director Bill Stetka, who declined to comment late last night, confirmed the searches and said the club cooperated and the computers were returned, according to The Times. The newspaper reported that Stetka's computer was among those searched.
The Times is reporting that Mitchell released a statement yesterday saying, "While it is our practice not to comment on the investigation, any suggestion that the investigation is focused on any single team is incorrect."
Palmeiro, who was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 after testing positive for steroids, is out of baseball. He didn't return a call last night.
Tatis spent part of the 2006 season with the Orioles and is currently playing for the New York Mets' Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans. Sosa is making a comeback this year with the Texas Rangers.
"I don't want to talk about that thing," Sosa told a Times reporter when asked about the Mitchell investigation before last night's game against the New York Yankees. "No comment."
Grimsley pitched for seven clubs from 1989 through 2006, spending parts of two seasons with the Orioles. He last pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks before being suspended for 50 days during the 2006 season.
Segui, who retired after the 2004 season, has admitted to using human growth hormone later in his career while finishing out the remainder of his four-year, $28 million Orioles contract, but he said it came from a Florida doctor's prescription. Segui once faxed a copy of the prescription to The Sun, along with results of an exam that showed his low hGH level.
Segui questioned whether a team would distribute steroids to players and then provide evidence that investigators could use against them.
"If a player did that, would a team be stupid enough to include that?" he said. "It doesn't make any sense to me. What would they be able to find? I'm not sure what they're looking for. A change in your weight?"
Referring to his days with the Orioles, Segui said: "You had to jump through hoops to get Tylenol. You had to fill out forms."