(also see the Steroid Summer of 2007)
The George Mitchell MLB probe took a major step forward tonight, according to the New York Times (registration required). Mitchell is pursuing several (ex)members of the Baltimore Orioles, asking for more information including medical records. The names are at once expected and yet surprising.
Mitchell asked for more information on Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, David Segui, Jason Grimsley, and Fernando Tatis. Several of the named players allegedly used HGH (growth hormone) for which there is no lab test; the only evidence of HGH use continues to be documentation of purchase and delivery. Thus, pursuit of that evidence is paramount for a PED investigation.
Palmeiro played for Baltimore from 1994 to 1998, and again from 2002 to 2004. Segui from 1990 to 93, and again 2001 to 2004. Grimsley from 2004 to 2005. Sammy Sosa paced the Oriole clubhouse in 2005. Tatis, the surprise player, only played with Baltimore in 2006.
Other Oriole players implicated by media speculation include Miguel Tejada, Jay Gibbons and Brian Roberts appear not to be involved in this leg of the Mitchell investigation. From the Times:
Investigators into steroid use in baseball are seeking medical records from at least two of baseball’s premier sluggers over the past dozen years, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro, along with dozens of other players suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs, a baseball official with direct knowledge of the request says.
The investigators in the inquiry headed by the former Senator George J. Mitchell have also asked the Baltimore Orioles to send medical files relating to Jason Grimsley, David Segui and Fernando Tatis to those players, the official said. The players will then be asked to authorize their release to Mitchell, although they are believed to be unlikely to do so.
Sosa, a PED suspect since the Civil War, played only briefly for the O's; the majority of his alleged PED use occurred during his long stint with the Cubs. There are no reports of a positive Sosa PED test.
The IRS and Jeff Novitzky nailed the veteran relief pitcher Jason Grimsley. However, Grimsley only played with Baltimore for 2 late seasons. The Grimsley bust netted the feds anabolic steroids, and HGH.
Fernando Tatis seems to be a surprise target of the Mitchell Probe. Tatis played for the O's in 2006, in which he put up pedestrian numbers. However, in 1999, as a St. Louis Cardinal, Tatis blew up with 34 home runs, 107 RBI, and a .298 average. He has never even vaguely approached that level of performance.
Segui admits to use of prescription HGH.
Why the intense focus on the Orioles?
Investigators have looked deeply into the Orioles, among other organizations. Mitchell’s staff has interviewed at least nine members of the Orioles’ front office and training staff and searched at least six of their personal computers for evidence relating to performance-enhancing drugs, the official said...
While the Orioles are not being singled out in the investigation, the city of Baltimore has an important role. Two of the lawyers working with Mitchell are based there. Also, a United States Department of Justice press release on the New York steroids case singled out two United States attorneys’ offices — one in Long Island, the other in Baltimore — for “important assistance in the investigation.” The steroid dealer lived on Long Island and was arrested and searched at his home there; the Baltimore connection to the criminal case remains unexplained.
Two spokeswomen for the United States attorney’s office in Baltimore said Monday that they did not know of any involvement with the criminal investigation into steroid trafficking to athletes, which is developing and wrapped in secrecy.
This information suggests that Metboy Kirk Radomski operating from Long Island, and former Oriole Jason Grimsley playing for Baltimore occupy particularly important roles in the investigation.
How important is the Metboy leak?
Federal criminal investigators and the Mitchell investigators are sharing information. The Times reported last week that Mitchell was looking at more than three dozen current and former major league baseball players, many of them named by Kirk Radomski, who worked for the Mets from 1985 to 1995.