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June 21, 2006
Paxton Crawford admits using performance-enhancing drugs
Journal photo / BOB BREIDENBACH
Baseball's steroids/human-growth-hormone/amphetamines controversy hit home today, as ex-Red Sox pitcher Paxton Crawford admitted in an article in ESPN The Magazine (subscription required) that he used all those performance-enhancing drugs while in the Boston system.
Crawford pitched briefly the Red Sox in 2000 and 2001, and also pitched for the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2000, '01 and '02.
In an interview with Amy K. Nelson -- a freelance writer who has worked for The Providence Journal in the past -- Crawford said he first began using steroids during spring training in 1999. He said the drug was recommended to him by minor-league teammates as a means of reducing pain.
''They told me that if I took this stuff, it would make the pain go away and cut my recovery time in half,'' he told Nelson. ''Shoot, why not? I'm just a country boy; I didn't even think twice. It seemed like everybody else was doing it, so it wasn't a big deal, right?''
Crawford said his fastball immediately improved from the 92-93 mph range to 95-96 mph.
''But the biggest change for me was consistency,'' he told Nelson. ''My breaking pitches had more velocity and sharper break.''
Crawford pitched a no-hitter for the PawSox in 2000 -- a seven-inning effort at Ottawa in the first game of a doubleheader -- and made it to the majors later that year, pitching in seven games for the Red Sox with a 2-1 record and a 3.41 earned-run average. He earned a spot in the Sox' starting rotation in spring training 2001 . . . which is also when he began using human growth hormone.
''I was probably using the most back in 2001,'' he told Nelson. ''About that time I was getting pretty big, and another player introduced me to human growth hormone, which had started to make the rounds in the majors.
''I got a kit with two bottles: One was filled with some kind of water, and the other was filled with these tiny crystals. I put a few drops into the crystals and -- poof! -- it became liquid. I thought, 'Boy, what the hell are you putting into your body?' But I did it anyway.''
Crawford said he didn't like HGH and eventually stopped taking it ''because it cut me up. It was a fat burner, and it made my muscles really lean and tight.'' Because he also afraid of ''roid rage,'' he began reducing the amount of steroids he took, but then took amphetamines -- ''greenies'' -- to regain the adrenaline he lost by cutting back on steroids.
''That's why I think steroids are a gateway drug,'' said Crawford, referring to a drug that leads a person to other drugs.
Crawford started quickly for the Sox in '01. He had a 1-0 record and 2.55 ERA in his first four starts.
''Back in 2001, I thought I was the man,'' he told Nelson. ''I had no shame, and I thought nobody could touch me.''
But it didn't last long. He began pitching erratically and was farmed out to Pawtucket in mid-May. By mid-June, he was on the disabled list because of a stress fracture in his lower back that he now thinks was related to steroid use.
(Crawford also was sidelined by an injury he says happened when he fell out of bed and onto some glass, but asserts the serious back problems were unrelated to that incident.)
Despite having surgery the back injuries never truly went away, and he never made it back to the big leagues. He is now out of baseball at age 28 after pitching the last two years in independent leagues.
Crawford is the second Red Sox player to be linked to performance-enhancing drugs; in 2000, steroids were found in the glove compartment of the car of utility infielder Manny Alexander. And if what Crawford says is any indication, he probably won't be the last.
''I'll never name names,'' he told Nelson, ''but I know it wasn't just me. Steroids had a hold on the game. Guys were walking around like zombies.''
He told one story of pitchers who were on steroids.
''A lot of guys on juice would shave their chests and arms and walk around looking oily,'' he said. ''One time I remember a coach telling some of us, 'We don't want guys who look good on the beach. We want guys who can pitch!' ''
For all the physical advantages he received from the drugs, Crawford says they also did damage to him emotionally.
''Baseball is mostly mental,'' he told Nelson, ''and all these things you're putting into your body are going to affect how you think. In 2001, that started happening to me. I was taking way too much stuff, and I'd get rattled. You can't get rattled in the big leagues.
''And then I messed up my back. I think the steroids had something to do with that, too.''
Nelson's interview with Crawford is online in the Insider portion of espn.com. It will also be available on newsstands this week.
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art at 5:07 PM | Permalink
Wednesday night lineup
No surprises in Wednesday night's Red Sox lineup; the only news is that Alex Gonzalez is back at shortstop and Alex Cora is back on the bench:
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Mark Loretta, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Manny Ramirez, LF
Trot Nixon, RF
Jason Varitek, C
Mike Lowell, 3B
Coco Crisp, CF
Alex Gonzalez, SS
Jon Lester, P
Posted by Art at 3:34 PM | Permalink
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Wednesday press notes
Wednesday's press notes, courtesy of the Red Sox' P.R. department . . .
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
DATE OPP. BOS TIME RED SOX STARTER OPPOSING STARTER TELEVISION
Wed., June 21 WAS 7:05 p.m. LHP Jon Lester (1-0, 3.48) RHP Shawn Hill (1-1, 2.42) NESN
Fri., June 23 PHI 7:05 p.m. RHP Josh Beckett (8-3, 5.09) RHP Ryan Madson (7-4, 5.79) NESN
Sat., June 24 PHI 1:25 p.m. RHP Curt Schilling (9-2, 3.55) RHP Brett Myers (5-3, 3.77) FOX 25
Sun., June 25 PHI 2:05 p.m. RHP Tim Wakefield (5-8, 3.82) RHP Cory Lidle (4-6, 5.00) NESN
---All games broadcast on 103.7 WEEI-fM and the Red Sox radio network and the Red Sox Spanish-language radio network---
INTERLEAGUE WINS: Since the start of 2005, the Red Sox are 19-7 versus National League clubs, a .737 winning percentage that is the best in interleague play among all major league teams in that span:
PCT W-L Team
.737 19-7 Boston
.720 18-7 Chicago (AL)
.692 18-8 Cleveland
.684 13-6 St. Louis
.680 17-8 Seattle
.636 14-8 Florida
Since start of 2005, Boston is hitting an MLB best .309 (286-926) in interleague play and have outscored its N.L. foes, 159-104. Team ERA in this span is 3.89.
ABOUT THE SOX: The Red Sox have won 5 straight games since losing in Minnesota on June 15…That matches the team’s longest winning streak of the season, accomplished twice previously, April 5-11 and May 4-9…Last longer win streak was 6 victories in a row, August 7-13, 2005…Sox are 8-5 since June 8 and 11-8 beginning May 31 . . . At 41-28, Boston is a season best 13 games over .500 and has its best record after 69 games since 2002 (45-24/lost game 70)…Club was 39-30 and 2nd, 2 GB, after 69 contests a year ago . . . The Sox have held a 2-game advantage in the A.L. East for the past 2 days, their biggest advantage since a 2-game margin on May 28…Club has been in the top spot the last 4 days and has been in sole possession of or in a statistical tie for first place in the division for 67 of 78 days in 2006 . . . At Fenway Park, the Sox have won 8 of 10 and 13 of the last 18 games, the longer streak beginning May 4…Club’s .667 (20-10) home winning percentage ranks 3rd in the A.L. behind Chicago at .714 (25-10) and Minnesota at .677 (21-10).
INTERLEAGUE PLAY: The Red Sox are 7-1 versus the National League this season, winning 5 straight since a loss in Philadelphia on May 21…That matches Detroit the for 2nd best winning percentage (.875) for A.L. team in 2006 interleague play behind Seattle at 7-0…Boston has won 11 of its last 12 and 16 of last 18 in interleague play starting June 12, 2005…Sox are 84-81 lifetime vs. N.L. in regular season, 47-36 at Fenway Park…Sox are 9-2 at home against N.L. teams since start of 2005, winning 8 of the last 9…With wins in the 1st 2 games of this series, team has won its last 9 home series in interleague play since dropping 2 of 3 to St. Louis, June 10-12, 2003…Since that time, Boston is 20- 6 at Fenway Park against the National League.
BATTING NOTES: The Sox had 17 hits on Tuesday, team’s most in a game since having 21 on September 20, 2005 at Tampa Bay…Boston’s 11 runs last night were its most in a game since May 15 at Baltimore (11) and the 6th time this season club has scored at least 10 runs…Sox are 73-for-218 (.343) in last 6 games and have a .296 (316-for-1066) average over the last 30 contests improve season mark from .274 to .284, 5th best in the league and the highest since May 28 (.284)…Sox are batting .339 (184-543) with 105 runs in last 16 games at Fenway Park and lead the league with a home batting average of .306 (311-1016) . . . Sox scored 6 runs in the 2nd inning on Wednesday, their 2nd most productive frame of the season to a 7-run 3rd on April 19 against Tampa Bay…The 6 hits by Boston in that inning were a season best for any frame.
WITH THE GLOVE: The Red Sox have gone 9 games without an error, the team’s longest errorless streak since 9 games from July 30-August 8, 1993…The last time the team had an errorless streak of longer than 9 games was a 10-game span from September 26-October 5, 1986…Have 3 miscues in the last 17 games and 12 errors over last 44 contests beginning May 1…Boston leads the majors with a .991 fielding percentage with 23 total errors being 8 fewer than any other major league club (San Diego)…Are the fewest errors for any major league team in a non-strike season through June 17 since research is first available beginning in 1960…Sox last led A.L. in team fielding for a season in 1950.
CLIMBING FAST: Jonathan Papelbon has earned saves in his last 3 appearances and leads the A.L. with 23 saves, tying Doug Corbett (Minnesota-1980) and Huston Street (Oakland-2005) for 12th most ever by a rookie…Next on list is Dick Radatz (1962), who holds team rookie mark with 24 saves…ML record is 37 by Seattle’s Kazuhiro Sasaki in 2000…Has converted 23 of 24 save tries (95.8%), the 2nd best percentage in the majors among pitchers with at least 15 saves to Baltimore’s Chris Ray (18-18) . . . Papelbon has pitched 19 scoreless innings in last 18 games since allowing only run this season on May 3 vs. Toronto…His 0.25 earned run average is the lowest in the majors among all pitchers who have worked at least 7 innings . . . As a point of reference, Dennis Eckersley’s 0.61 era with Oakland in 1990 is the lowest earned run average in a season for a pitcher who has pitched at least 35 innings and at least 50 innings…The Red Sox club record for a season at those minimums is 1.00 by Dutch Leonard in 224 innings in 1914…ERA became an official statistic in 1912.
MANNY RAMIREZ is 5-for-13 with a pair of doubles, 2 homers, and 3 RBI in this last 3 games…Manny’s 113 interleague RBI are the 3rd highest total ever behind Carlos Delgado (128) and Jim Thome (115) and his 39 homers ranks as 4th most…His 453 career homers are tied with Gary Sheffield for 28th all-time, tied for 4th among active players behind Barry Bonds (718), Ken Griffey (548), and Frank Thomas (464).
FENWAY PERFECTION: The Red Sox have won all 8 games at home against the Expos/Nationals, sweeping 3-game series in 1998 and 2000 in addition to 2 victories in this series…Are the most wins without a regular season loss lifetime for the Sox at Fenway Park…Club is 3-0 all-time versus the Astros and Reds…Is the longest current home winning streak versus one team and longest since 8 consecutive Fenway wins versus Tampa Bay, July 19, 2005- April 19, 2006.
STELLAR AT SHORT: Alex Gonzalez leads A.L. shortstops with a .995 (1 E/209 TC) fielding percentage and has gone 49 games since his lone miscue on April 9 at Baltimore, both a single season and overall team mark for a shortstop…Previous overall record was 48 games by Rico Petrocelli, September. 25, 1968-May 30, 1969.
TIME CHANGE: The Red Sox-Orioles game on Saturday, August 12 at Fenway Park has been moved back from 7:05 to a 1:25 p.m. start to accommodate a FOX Saturday telecast…That game had been moved from day to night last month, but FOX once again picked up the contest after losing the Sox-Rangers game on June 10 due to the delayed start by rain.
ROSTER MOVES: The Red Sox today acquired RHP Jason Johnson and a cash consideration from the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later or cash…To make room on the active roster, RHP Kyle Snyder was optioned to Pawtucket…In addition, OF Dustin Mohr, who was designated for assignment on June 16 while on option to Pawtucket, has elected free agency instead of accepting outright assignment to Pawtucket.
MARTINEZ SELECTED TO FUTURES GAME ROSTER: Portland Sea Dogs RHP Edgar Martinez (1-3, 3.82) today was selected to play for the World Team at the 2006 XM Satellite Radio All-Star Futures Game on Sunday, July 9 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh…Sea Dogs manager Todd Claus will serve as a coach for the World team, the 2nd straight year he has participated in the event.
Posted by Art at 3:12 PM | Permalink
Sox acquire Indians' Johnson
The quote from the Cleveland Plain Dealer was prescient:
"The surprising thing about the Indians dumping Jason Johnson on Tuesday isn't that they waited so long to do it. It's that GM Mark Shapiro feels he can trade him."
The quote from Shapiro was surprising:
"There are more than a few teams who have had interest," Shapiro said. "And they're contenders."
The comment from Plain Dealer reporter Paul Hoynes was dismissive:
"That a contender would want Johnson offers chilling evidence of the state of pitching in the big leagues. After winning his first two decisions this year, Johnson went 1-8. His career record is 55-94."
And the end result, from the point of view of a Red Sox fan, was stunning: The Sox were that contender.
They acquired Jason Johnson from the Indians this afternoon for cash or a player to be named later.
Johnson, 32, is in his 10th year in the major leagues and his first with the Indians; he signed with Cleveland as a free agent last winter after posting back-to-back eight-win seasons with the Tigers. He spent most of his career with the Orioles (1999-2003), never winning more than 10 games in any season.
He will replace Kyle Snyder on the Red Sox roster. Snyder, who was the winning pitcher in Monday night's win over the Nationals three days after being claimed on waivers from the Kansas City Royals, was optioned to Pawtucket to make room for Johnson.
Johnson -- a diabetic who has managed to control his disease well enough to pitch in the major leagues -- is a back-end-of-the-rotation starter who depends more on guile and finesse than power. He started this season well, going 2-1 with a 3.41 ERA in his first four starts, but his downward spiral began when he allowed seven runs in two innings in a loss at Oakland on May 4. He's only won one game since then, on May 28, In his last four starts, he was 0-4 with a 6.35 ERA.
The Indians have had an extremely disappointing season -- they expected to contend for the Central Division championship but are currently 15 games out of first place -- and struggling veteran free agents are frequently made the scapegoats when such a team stumbles. The Sox, seeking replacement for injured veterans David Wells and Matt Clement, are hoping Johnson can stablize the lower portion of their rotation. They're not looking for a Cy Young-type performance -- and good thing, too, because Johnson can't provide it -- but they're hoping he can be the type of six-inning/three- or four-run pitcher he's been for most his career.
We'll have more when it becomes available.
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art at 2:14 PM | Permalink
Tuesday night's postgame notes
These are the postgame notes distributed by the Red Sox after Tuesday's game, courtesy of the Red Sox' P.R. department . . .
Tuesday, June 20, 2006 ● Fenway Park
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Washington 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 3 8 1
Boston 0 6 1 1 0 0 3 0 x 11 17 0
Winning Pitcher: Tim Wakefield (5-8) Time of Game: 2:55
Losing Pitcher: Livan Hernandez (5-8) Attendance: 36,421 (256th consecutive sellout since May 15, 2003)
Save: None Game Time Weather: 82 degrees, wind SSE at 7 mph
Nationals Home Runs: None
Red Sox Home Runs: Coco Crisp (3)
Tim Wakefield 103 62
Julian Tavarez 11 9
Craig Hansen 39 28
Livan Hernandez 56 33
Jason Bergmann 38 27
Bill Bray 46 27
Gary Majewski 14 9
Chad Cordero 4 3
BOSTON RED SOX (41-28)
STREAKING: The Red Sox have won a season-high 5 straight games for the 3rd time (also April 5-11 and May 4-9) to move to a season-best 13 games over .500 (have been 12 games over .500 6 times) . . . At Fenway Park, the Sox have won 8 of 10 and 13 of their last 18 games.
INTERLEAGUE IGNITION: The Red Sox improved to 7-1 vs. the National League this season, including wins in 5 straight games…Boston has won 11 of 12 and 16 of its last 18 in interleague play beginning June 12, 2005…with wins in the first 2 games of this series, the Sox have now won their last 9 home interleague series since dropping 2 of 3 to St. Louis from June 10-12, 2003.
A-WAKE: Tim Wakefield won for the first time in his last 4 starts, limiting the Nationals to one run on 4 hits in 6.0 innings…he walked one and struck out 4 . . . Wakefield now owns a 2.38 ERA (9 ER/34.0 IP) in his last 5 starts…he is 3-1 with a 1.60 ERA (6 ER/33.2 IP) in 5 starts vs. the N.L. over the last 2 seasons…however, last night marked his first interleague win at Fenway since July 16, 2000 vs. Montreal.
GETTING A BIT OFFENSIVE: The Red Sox last night set a single-game season high with 17 hits…they recorded at least 10 hits for the 4th straight game and for the 12th time in their last 16 contests…the club is batting .304 (175-for-576) in those 16 games . . . At Fenway Park, Boston now has 10 or more hits in 7 straight, 12 of 13 and 18 of their last 20 games…the Sox are batting .337 (155-for-460) in their last 13 home games beginning May 22.
SECONDS, PLEASE: The Red Sox set a season high for hits in an inning with 6 in their 6-run 2nd inning…it marked the Sox’ 3rd inning this season with 6 or more runs (season high for runs in an inning is 7 in the 3rd inning on April 19 vs. Tampa Bay)…the Sox batted around in an inning for the 14th time in 2006.
MARK IT DOWN: Mark Loretta drove in 3 runs last night after going without an RBI in his previous 16 games…before last night, his last RBI came on May 31 at Toronto . . . Loretta has hit safely in 5 straight games, going 9-for-23 (.391) to break out of a 1-for-10 slide in his previous 3 games.
HOT TO TROT: Trot Nixon has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games, going 19-for-43 (.442)…he also has at least one hit in 14 of his last 16 contests, batting .436 (24-for-55) with 7 doubles, a home run, 9 RBI, 13 runs and 10 walks...in those 16 games, he has lifted his average from .288 to .327…last night marked his 4th game of 3 or more hits this season.
HARD CORA: Alex Cora last night tied his career high with 3 runs scored (also June 7, 2000 with Los Angeles at Texas)…including 3 hits last night, he is now 5-for-6 (.833) with 4 RBI and 4 runs scored in his last 3 games…he is batting .380 (19-for-50) in his last 17 games with an at-bat beginning May 22 vs. New York…he has started 4 of the last 6 games.
COCO’S CRISP: Coco Crisp’s 7th-inning homer was the first of his career at Fenway Park.
DOUG IN DEEP: Doug Mirabelli snapped an 0-for-12 drought with his RBI double off the Monster in the 2nd.
WASHINGTON NATIONALS (32-41)
20 IN 20 ALMOST DONE: The Nationals tonight close out a stretch of 20 games in 20 days that began on June 2 at Milwaukee…Washington has gone 10-9 in the first 19 games.
NOT LIVAN LARGE: Livan Hernandez lasted just 1.2 innings, tied for the shortest start of his career (also July 3, 2002 with San Francisco at Colorado)…last night he was touched for 6 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks…he has lost each of his last 3 starts.
Posted by Art at 9:21 AM | Permalink