The Sports Illustrated web site SI.com reports that Rangers infielder Jerry Hairston has been linked to the same probe that included Gary Matthews Jr..
According to SI reporters Luis Fernando Llosa and L. Jon Wertheim:
Authorities say that physicians writing bogus prescriptions are a vital component of this whole scheme. Without prescriptions, the compound pharmacies obviously would not be taking and filling orders. Already some doctors have caught the eye of investigators. A Queens, N.Y., doctor, Ana Maria Santi, is currently in an Albany County (N.Y.) jail, held without bail on charges of forgery and criminal diversion of prescription medicine, among others. Authorities say that Santi, with her medical license already suspended by the state, took the alias of Abdul Almarashi. She then allegedly signed thousands of prescriptions for internet patients from all over the country.
According to a law enforcement document we’ve reviewed, in May 2004, a doctor A. Almarashi of Queens prescribed Genotropin (human growth hormone) that was sent from Applied Pharmacy Services — the compound pharmacy raided in Mobile, Ala., last fall — to Rangers infielder Jerry Hairston, Jr.
Genotropin is the substance that was allegedly sent to Matthews via an unnamed "minor league teammate" in Mansfield, Texas, in August 2004. The shipment was from the same lab in Mobile, Alabama.
Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported today that Hairston angrily denied receiving the human growth hormone (HGH) from the lab. "I have never in my life – never – used steroids or illegal substances. I have never tested positive for anything. I know what goes into my body, and it’s all legal. I’ve never used amphetamines. Nothing."
At the time, MLB did not test for HGH, nor does it now. MLB did not ban HGH use until 2005. HGH use is legal with a prescription, but the law also requires a doctor to do a proper exam before issuing the prescription.
Grant describes Hairston and Matthews as "close friends" who were teammates in Baltimore during 2002-2003.
The probe may lead back to former Orioles first baseman David Segui. Pitcher Jason Grimsley, who named fellow ballplayers when he cooperated with a federal probe last year, said he was referred to a doctor by Segui. Hairston and Matthews were also teammates with Segui during their time with the Orioles.
Segui told ESPN in July 2006 that he was the one who referred Grimsley in 2003 to a Florida doctor who would issue HGH under prescription.
Segui showed ESPN a prescription for HGH from 2003, and said he continues to take HGH today. Segui says that Grimsley told him this past offseason that he planned to take HGH to help his recovery from Tommy John surgery on his elbow. Segui said he suggested that Grimsley see a doctor and have his growth hormone level tested.
According to Matthews’ 2004 bio on MLB.com, he "was slowed by a right calf injury in early Sept. and played just one of club’s final 27 contests."
Assuming that Matthews suffered the injury in August 2004 and was trying to play through it, this suggests that he might have ordered Genotropin to hasten his recovery from the injury.
I’ve been doing some reading on-line about Genotropin and HGH in general. When not used for its intended purpose (i.e. stunted growth), the sentiment seems to be that it used mostly to reduce body fat and heal muscle injuries. In massive quantities, it might build increased mass but that wouldn’t translate into being a better ballplayer. The best hitters have excellent hand-eye coordination and fast hands. The longer they can wait to watch a pitch, the more time they have to react to its movement. Hand-eye coordination helps hit the ball squarely and drive it.
So I really doubt that Matthews’ anomalous 2006 season can be attributed to HGH.
This article is copyright © 2007 Wordsmith Resources and FutureAngels.com. It may not be used elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author.