The Tampa Bay Rays escaped the wrath of the Mitchell Report, released Thursday afternoon. A number of former Tampa Bay players, however, were on the list.
Citing how it will affect each and every team, Senator George Mitchell told the nation on national television that some of the games biggest names had purchased and/or used performance enhancing drugs including steroids and human growth hormones (HGH).
“Upholding the integrity of the game is paramount to the Tampa Bay Rays,” the team said in a release. “We are supportive of Senator Mitchell’s recommendations, and we will work in concert with the Office of the Commissioner to help implement them.”
Alex Sanchez was the first big league player ever suspended under a new drug policy in 2005, shortly after the collective bargaining agreement was reopened. The Rays’ outfielder missed ten games and lost more than $32,000 in salary.
He fell out of favor with then manager Lou Piniella and, ultimately getting designated for assignment despite hitting a robust .346.
After Congress forced the hand of Major League Baseball and the Players Association to tighten that policy, the penalty was raised to 50 games for a first-time offender. Rookie reliever Juan Salas, a force in the minors during 2006, failed a test in 2007, becoming the only American League player to miss time for steroids during the past season.
Former Rays who were named by Mitchell were catcher Tim Laker, a member of the Inaugural team in 1998, pitcher Jim Parque, designated hitter Jose Canseco, outfielder Jose Guillen and one-time controversial pitcher John Rocker.
The allegations against Laker were from his days in Montreal while he was with the Expos.
Two checks were presented from Parque. The first was dated October 18, 2003, in the amount of $3,200; the second was dated December 6, 2003, in the amount of $1,600. The left-hander appeared in just five games for the Rays that year and was demoted to Durham on May 22, before being released by the organization in the season’s final month.
Canseco’s steroid usage has been well chronicled, and detailed meticulously in his autobiography Juiced, although there was no evidence he used while a member of the Rays.
Guillen, fresh off inking a one-year free-agent deal with the Kansas City Royals, has already been sanctioned for alleged HGH use. Pending appeal, he is scheduled to sit out the first 15 games of the 2008 season, reportedly due to multiple purchases between 2002-2005, a year after he left Tampa Bay.
According to the report, Rocker once received two prescriptions in 2003 between April and July. The southpaw was designated for assignment soon after, refused an outright assignment to the minors and became a free agent on May 29. He is the only player named in the report who was active while under contract with Tampa Bay.