Indians have ties to Mitchell Report

Indians react to Mitchell's report

CLEVELAND -- Names have been named, and the Indians saw current and former members of their organization mentioned in former Sen. George Mitchell's landmark report on performance-enhancing substances in baseball.

The report, which was unveiled to the public Thursday afternoon, summarizes previously reported information on Tribe starter Paul Byrd's purchase of human-growth hormones and unveils new information about roving Minor League catching instructor Tim Laker's steroid use.

Other than that, the 311-page report has no mention of any players who currently comprise the Indians' roster.

Bud Selig has vowed to follow Mitchell's suggestions for further improving MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program, and, in a statement released by the Indians, team president Paul Dolan said he supports the Commissioner's response.

"Our organization has been committed to eliminating the use of performance-enhancing substances from the game of baseball," Dolan said. "We have fully supported the adoption and implementation of the Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball Players Association Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, and will continue to educate our players of the dangers of performance-enhancing substances."

General manager Mark Shapiro referred interview requests to Dolan's statement and offered no further comment.

By and large, the Players Association did not cooperate with Mitchell's 21-month investigation. Tribe player representative Casey Blake, however, did not seem to take issue with the report when reached for comment.

"I figured the names were going to come out sooner or later," Blake said. "It's disappointing, you know. It's tough for me to sit here and say that names shouldn't have been mentioned or the investigation shouldn't have taken place, because I'm sure the fans and the public want to know if somebody is not playing by the rules."

Byrd and his agent, Bo McKinnis, did not return calls seeking comment on the report, which merely gave a rundown of a previous San Francisco Chronicle report that Byrd had bought nearly $25,000 worth of human-growth hormone and syringes from a Florida anti-aging clinic.

That Chronicle report surfaced the day the Indians played Game 7 of the American League Championship Series against the Red Sox. Before that game, Byrd told reporters he took the drugs to treat a tumor on his pituitary gland. He has not spoken publicly on the matter since.

It is believed that Byrd has been interviewed by MLB about his HGH use, though his case remains open.

Laker, meanwhile, was required to participate in Mitchell's investigation by virtue of the fact that he is a team employee. Laker managed the Indians' short-season Class A team in Mahoning Valley this past summer.

According to the report, Laker, who played in the Indians' system from 2001 to 2004 and again in '06, purchased performance-enhancing substances from former Mets clubhouse employee Kirk Radomski between 1995 and 2000, when he was a member of the Expos, Orioles, Devil Rays and Pirates. Radomski cooperated with the Mitchell investigation after pleading guilty to distributing the drugs to Major Leaguers.

Laker did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.

Former Tribe players Juan Gonzalez, John Rocker, Matt Williams, Steve Woodard, David Segui, Mark Carreon, Jason Grimsley, David Justice, Glenallen Hill, Ron Villone, Kent Mercker and Chad Allen are also mentioned in the report.

Mitchell's document recaps a previously reported incident involving Gonzalez from the 2001 season, when he was playing for the Indians. In October of that year, officers with the Canadian Border Service discovered steroids and syringes in an unmarked bag that belonged to Gonzalez's entourage.

As for the other former Indians players, the report does not state that they used performance-enhancing substances during their time with the Tribe.

Indians setup man Rafael Betancourt, whose name does not surface in the report, is the only member of the team to have been suspended under MLB's drug policy. He was handed a 10-day suspension in 2005 for violating baseball's drug program.

Several high-profile players were among those named in Mitchell's report, which 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 document.

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. 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.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.