Cardinals to learn from Mitchell Report
Former Senator's document lists names from organization
ST. LOUIS -- Former Cardinals Fernando Vina and Gary Bennett were among the players named in former Sen. George Mitchell's report on illegal performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, which was released on Thursday afternoon.
Mark McGwire and Rick Ankiel, both previously implicated in the use of such substances, were named as well. However, no new information on either player was released in the report. Pitcher Ryan Franklin, who tested positive for steroids and was suspended in 2005, was also named.
Several other players who spent time as Cardinals are also named: Cody McKay, David Bell, Larry Bigbie, Kent Mercker, Darren Holmes, Ryan Franklin and Jason Christiansen.
"We wish there were no Cardinals, former or current, named in Senator Mitchell's report," team president Mark Lamping said at a news conference at Busch Stadium on Thursday. "In fact, we wish there hadn't been the need for the investigation and the report. ... But we believed in the purpose of this investigation when it was announced, and we are extremely gratified to hear the steps and action that Commissioner Selig will take to deal with this issue immediately and in the future."
One of the Cards' greatest worries, however, turned out to be groundless. An early report from New York's WNBC circulated on Thursday morning that purported to have the list of players' names contained in the report. That list included the name of superstar Albert Pujols, but Pujols' name turned out not to appear in the report at all. No current Cardinals player other than Franklin and Ankiel was named.
"Leading up to last night, we were looking at all the variables that might play out today," general manager John Mozeliak said on Thursday. "So we were relieved that none of the key members of our club were named in today's report. So in that regard I think it is a sigh of relief."
Lamping commended the St. Louis media for not making more of the Pujols report, but still expressed frustration. As of Thursday evening, Pujols and his agents had not decided whether to make a public comment on the report or to pursue action.
"I didn't think it true," Lamping said. "I obviously hoped. My first thought was to Albert and Dede [Pujols' wife] and their family. And it turns out how unfair that was."
Vina, the Cardinals' second baseman and leadoff man for four years, is reported to have purchased "anabolic steroids or human growth hormone" from Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski during a period stretching from 2000-2005. Vina played for the Cardinals from 2000-2003 before leaving for the Tigers as a free agent. He has since retired and currently works for ESPN as a baseball analyst.
Bennett, the Cardinals' backup catcher in 2006 and 2007, is reported to have purchased human growth hormone from Radomski in 2003, when he was a member of the San Diego Padres. He did not return a phone message seeking comment.
The report revisits the cases of McGwire and Ankiel, both of which have been heavily publicized. The story of McGwire's use of androstenedione in 1998, and the subsequent controversy over the reporting of the issue, is retold.
Additionally, the report details the sequence of events in which Jose Canseco accused McGwire of steroid use in Canseco's book, Juiced,, including public comments by manager Tony La Russa and first-base coach Dave McKay, and McGwire's testimony before Congress in 2005. However, no new details regarding McGwire were unearthed in the investigation. Messages seeking comment were left with La Russa and with McGwire's representative, Jim Milner.
"Our hope is that with today's report, we begin to turn the page," Lamping said. "We obviously can learn from the past, but I hope we don't spend all our time and energy focusing on what happened during that time period, knowing that there's no way we're going to be able to get to 100 percent of the facts as to what happened and what didn't happen."
Similarly, the report details the case of Ankiel, who was reported in the New York Daily News to have received shipments of human growth hormone from a Florida clinic. But as with McGwire, the report adds no additional information to what had already been reported regarding Ankiel. An employee of Ankiel's agent, Scott Boras, said that Boras would have no comment on Ankiel's behalf, or on the report at all, until at least Friday.
The report shed a little extra light previously unreported on the case of Franklin. According to the report, Franklin was referred to Radomski by teammate Ron Villone, and he received the anabolic steroids anavar and deca-durabolin.
The findings of former Sen. Mitchell's report concerning the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball were released at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Several high-profile, superstar-caliber players were among those named in the Mitchell Report, the product of a 21-month, multimillion dollar investigation that could shape decisions, prompt punitive actions against active players, and usher in the next era of the sport.
Free agent Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees, Miguel Tejada of the Houston Astros, Eric Gagne of the Milwaukee Brewers and Paul Lo Duca of the Washington Nationals were among the most prominent former and current All-Stars to be mentioned in the lengthy report, which spans 311 pages, plus multiple exhibits, including evidence of signed checks, handwritten notes and shipping receipts.
The players listed in the paragraph above are by no means the only players listed in the report, but in MLB.com's first, quick, review of the document, those names stood out by their notoriety. Our coverage will continue minute-by-minute through the course of the proceedings and for the foreseeable future thereafter, but the entire report is available for viewing here at MLB.com.
While the report detailed drug use in baseball by naming those accused, the report also contained 19 separate recommendations for the sport to move forward from this point, proceeding after a culture of steroids and performance enhancement grew exponentially in the late 1990s.
Mitchell's report named both Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association in assigning blame, charging leadership -- from the Commissioner to club owners and general managers -- for allowing the issue to proliferate.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.