05/29/2002 01:21 am ET
Caminiti reveals his steroid use
By Barry Bloom / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- San Diego Padres manager Bruce Bochy
had Ken Caminiti on his team in 1996 when the third
baseman was the National League's Most Valuable Player
and the team went to the playoffs.
Bochy wasn't surprised Tuesday by the report in
this week's Sports Illustrated that Caminiti used
steroids for part of that season. Playing with a torn
rotator cuff in his left shoulder, Caminiti batted
.326 with 40 homers and 130 runs batted in -- all
Caminiti said he's not alone. He and former
outfielder Chad Curtis told Sports Illustrated that
about 50 percent of the players currently in
the Major Leagues use some form of steroids.
"By no means am I endorsing steroids," said
Bochy, who managed Caminiti from 1995-1998. "It has
to be a concern for the health of these players that
do take them. But the tear he had in that rotator
cuff, it was amazing that he was able to play and
maybe otherwise he couldn't have.
"I'm not saying it's right, but I guess what I'm
saying is that I'm not surprised that he was on
something to get him through that year."
Caminiti, who retired from baseball after playing
for the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves last season,
is the first prominent baseball player to admit he
took steroids to enhance his performance.
A recovering alcoholic and drug addict, Caminiti
said he had made "a ton of mistakes" in his life,
but using steroids was not one of them.
Caminiti was arrested last year in Houston for
drug use and recently pleaded guilty to cocaine
possession. He was fined $2,000 and given three
"It's no secret what's going on in baseball. At
least half the guys are using (steroids)," he told
Sports Illustrated. "They talk about it. They joke
about it with each other. I don't want to hurt fellow
teammates or fellow friends. But I have nothing to
Caminiti's statements come only weeks after Jose
Canseco retired from baseball and said that he would
reveal who uses steroids in a tell-all
autobiography about his years playing the game.
Canseco and fellow Bash Brother, Mark McGwire,
were both accused of using
steroids when they played for the Oakland Athletics
team that won three consecutive American League
pennants from 1988-1990.
McGwire, playing for the St. Louis Cardinals,
admitted using a muscle enhancing substance in 1998,
the year he shattered Roger Maris' 37-year-old record
and hit 70 homers.
Barry Bonds, who has gotten bigger and stronger as
he has grown older, hit 73 homers for the San
Francisco Giants and broke McGwire's record last
But Bonds said he doesn't use steroids and
maintains that drug use in baseball is the players'
Major League Baseball does not test for steroid
use nor does it have a comprehensive collectively
bargained drug test program like the National
Football League and the National Basketball
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig told Sports
Illustrated that he believe it's in the "the best
interest of the players" to test for drugs such
"We need to test," Selig said. "It's in the
best interest of the players long term. I really
The Major League Baseball Players Association,
like many labor unions, though, has resisted drug
testing as a breach of privacy.
Steroid use has serious medical downsides. It
elevates the body's testosterone level to increase
muscle mass. The drugs, though, can cause
strokes, heart and/or liver damage, elevated
cholesterol levels and aggressive behavior.
"You flirt with the devil, you're going to pay him now or pay him later," said San Francisco Giants manager Dusty Baker. "That's the thing with any drug -- you don't know the after-effects until it's too late. If it is [detrimental], in 10-12 years you're going to be hearing some strange things."
Steroids are illegal in the U.S. unless prescribed
by a doctor, but are available over-the-counter in many
Gerry Hunsicker, the general manager for the
Houston Astros, where Caminiti played in 1999 and
2000, said the focus Caminiti is placing on
the issue might lead to some significant changes in
"This confirms that there is supplement usage in
our business to some degree," Hunsicker said. "From
a positive standpoint, it might shed
enough light on a problem that the industry will take
it seriously. It's obvious that some people are going
out there with advantages that others don't
have. It isn't fair."
Barry M. Bloom is a regular contributor to MLB.com. Sandy Burgin, Jim Molony and John Schlegel contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.