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Sheffield unknowingly used steroid
10/05/2004 8:53 PM ET
NEW YORK -- Gary Sheffield admitted to unknowingly using an illegal steroid during the 2002 season, becoming the first Major Leaguer involved in the BALCO investigation to do so.

But Sheffield, who played in his first postseason game with the Yankees on Tuesday, won't be disciplined for his actions, according to Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball's Executive VP, Labor Relations and Human Resources.

"There is a reasonable cause provision in the basic agreement, but it's limited to the last 12 months. This activity was before that 12-month window," Manfred said before Game 1 of the Yankees-Twins series. "It's really too old to be of significance.

"The more important issue is, what are people doing today?" Manfred added. "That's why we have a testing program, and we have good information on all Major League players as a result of the testing program. Players who are positive will be dealt with under the teams of that program."

In a Sports Illustrated story, which hits newsstands on Wednesday, Sheffield said that he used a steroid known as "the cream," but he did not know that it was illegal while he was using it.

   Gary Sheffield  /   RF
Born: 11/18/68
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 205 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

"I always speak my mind, like I've told you guys before," said Sheffield after batting practice on Tuesday. "It's a story I did before, and I stick by that. That's the end of it."

Manager Joe Torre said that he didn't think the latest revelations would have any impact on Sheffield's ability to focus during the playoffs, as the right fielder has been dealing with questions about the BALCO investigation since the spring.

"In the short time I've known Sheff, if you ask him a question, he's going to be pretty open," Torre said. "If it is a distraction, we'll have to find a way for it not to be one. We can't pretend it's not there, but it's just part of what we need to do."

"I'm looking forward to getting it behind me and moving forward," Sheffield said. "Once the first pitch is thrown, I'll already have forgotten about it."

During his 2003 testimony in front of a federal grand jury, Sheffield said that the cream "was like a cortisone to heal these wounds. I rubbed it on every night and it helped me.

"It was like you could go to a store and find something like that. That's what was in my thoughts," Sheffield told SI. "I put it on my legs and thought nothing of it. I kept it in my locker. The trainer saw my cream."

When the news broke that "the cream," as well as another BALCO balm known as "the clear," were designer steroids, Sheffield said that he was shocked.

"That's why I was mad," he told the magazine. "I want everybody to be on an even playing field."

Sheffield also implicated Barry Bonds in the story, saying that he was introduced to BALCO by the San Francisco slugger in 2002, when the two men worked out together before the season.

"He said, 'I got guys here, they can get your urine and blood and prescribe a vitamin specifically for your blood type and what your body needs,'" Sheffield said in the story. "And that's what I did."

Manfred was asked if the league was concerned about the fact that Bonds' name was being brought up in the story, but he declined to get into specifics.

"From the Commissioner's perspective, any player who admits that he's involved with steroids is an issue and a concern," Manfred said. "It doesn't matter which particular player it is, because our goal is zero tolerance. Any player and every player is an issue."

Sheffield, who met BALCO president Victor Conte through Bonds, said that he did not deal directly with anyone from BALCO after his first meeting with Conte. Sheffield said that he received his vitamins from BALCO through Greg Anderson, Bonds' former trainer, who, along with Conte and two other men, was indicted in February on charges of conspiring to distribute performance-enhancing drugs.

Sheffield also claimed that after Bonds had told him he would pay all of his expenses, he later had someone notify Sheffield that he needed to settle up his tab with BALCO.

"I called BALCO. 'Do I owe you anything?"' Sheffield said. "'Well, you have a bill.' I told my wife, 'You write the check.' That's how I got linked to BALCO."

While Sheffield admitted to using the illegal steroid, it clearly didn't enhance his performance. In 2002, Sheffield hit just 25 home runs and drove in 84 RBIs, his lowest totals since 1998.

"I had my worst year ever," Sheffield told SI. "I gave [Bonds] too much credit. When you listen to another person on an everyday basis drill into you numbers, numbers, numbers, and you've never been that way, it doesn't work. I don't play for numbers. When I played to try to get numbers, I didn't get them."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.