Herges, Hill apologize for drug use
Statements corroborate allegations described in Mitchell Report
DENVER -- Rockies relief pitcher Matt Herges said Wednesday that insecurity led him to use performance-enhancing substances, effectively causing him to "live a double life."
Herges and first-base coach Glenallen Hill released statements through the club on Wednesday acknowledging their involvement with PEDs and apologizing for it. Both were identified as users in the report on drug use in baseball by former Sen. George Mitchell, released Dec. 13. Herges followed up with calls to reporters individually.
In his interview with MLB.com, Herges said he spent years rationalizing his public professing of his Christian faith with his drug use. The report linked Herges to steroid use in 1999 and said he had attempted to purchase human growth hormone in 2004 and 2005.
"I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I rationalized it," said Herges, who said in the statement and in the interview that he did not use drugs while having a standout 2007 with the Rockies, which earned him a one-year, $2.229 million deal with the club for 2008. "It was a shame it took for me to be naked in front of the whole world. It was a huge, huge mistake.
"In my case over the past couple of months, the more introspection I get, the more I look at why I am who I am, and how really jacked up I am. Over the past couple of months, seeing what's in my heart makes me sick. For me to profess faith, then do what I've done at times, I was living a double life."
Herges, who will turn 38 on April 1, said the Mitchell Report was especially difficult because he had to come clean with those close to him.
"My wife didn't even know," Herges said. "My family didn't even know. You can imagine what it's like when the whole world finds out. I had to talk to my mother, my father, my brothers and sisters -- there are eight kids in my family.
"I don't deserve the mercy I've received from my wife, my family members and the Rockies. I know when we go on the road, and probably from some Rockies fans, they're going to verbally crush me. But the support I've gotten from the people I truly care about has just blown me away."
Herges declined to say when he quit using PEDs, saying there are "other implications involved in that." Herges said that he has never failed a drug test under the Major League Baseball program.
Herges, who signed with the Dodgers in 1992 after not being drafted out of Illinois State, did not make it to the Majors until 1999. That also is the year the Mitchell Report attributed former Dodgers Triple-A strength and conditioning coach Todd Slayer as saying Herges used steroids.
The Mitchell Report says such drug use was common in baseball over two decades. Herges, however, contends that simply saying that was baseball culture would be "an excuse." He just said his insecurities clouded his judgment.
"Everybody has insecurities, and I have to battle those every time I go out on the mound," Herges said. "'Don't throw a belt-high fastball, or he'll kill it.' They go along with the job. Even the very best ones have them.
"But I took it to the next level. 'Maybe if I take something, I don't have to battle those insecurities.' I crossed that line."
Herges said the days leading up to the release of the Mitchell Report were difficult, that he had trouble sleeping. But he said once he was exposed, he relaxed. He waited until Wednesday to address the report publicly not, he says, because he was advised not to, but because he wanted to "let it sink in, pray," so that he would handle it properly.
"I'm grateful I got exposed," Herges said. "I could still be hiding this."
After being signed to a Minor League contract just before camp, Herges spent the first half of the 2007 season in the Minor Leagues. He then finished the regular season with the Rockies, going 5-1 with a 2.96 ERA in 35 regular-season appearances. He went 1-0 while pitching seven scoreless innings in seven postseason games.
Herges said he wants to be active in warning others that such drug use is wrong. He realizes he'll be asked about it repeatedly by media going into this season and doesn't want that to distract him from pitching. However, he said he would like to speak directly to young athletes.
Hill, meanwhile, was identified as a drug user during his playing career in the Mitchell Report, although his statement conflicted with that of Kirk Radomski, the former Mets employee who had reached a plea agreement with federal authorities for his involvement in steroids and money laundering. Hill was further implicated in a statement from former pitcher Jason Grimsley to federal authorities, which became public after the Mitchell Report was released.
Hill apologized in his statement for not being forthcoming when interviewed for the Mitchell Report.
"Simply put, I was not as candid as I should have been regarding my use of performance-enhancing substances late in my playing career," Hill said. "My brief use of performance-enhancing substances embarrassed me, both personally and professionally, and it was something that I did not want to discuss with anyone.
"After much thought and reflection, I felt I owed it to God, my family and the Rockies' organization to be completely forthcoming and truthful."
Like Herges, Hill said he wanted to be an ambassador against the use of banned substances.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.