Did Doctor Tell Red Sox to Just Use Steroids Wisely?
During his relatively brief major league service in Boston, third baseman Lou Merloni was better known for his childhood home -- he was called Framingham Lou in homage to his birthplace just up the Mass Pike from Boston -- and his still ongoing friendship with Nomar Garciaparra than he was for his on-field exploits. Perhaps there's a reason for his lack of statistical impact: He clearly never used steroids.
That didn't mean steroid use wasn't subtly encouraged in the clubhouse around him. According to quotes Merloni gave the Boston Globe, the Red Sox had a doctor speak at spring training at some point between 1996-2002, addressing concerns about steroid use. Instead of what Merloni and his teammates expected -- a traditional diatribe against the performance-enhancing substances -- they got a convoluted justification of how steroids could be taken safely over brief periods of the offseason. Certainly not what he expected, to put it mildly.
"No. He spins it and says, 'You know what? If you take steroids and sit on the couch all winter long, you can actually get stronger than someone who works out clean. If you're going to take steroids, one cycle won't hurt you; abusing steroids it will.' He sat there for one hour and told us how to properly use steroids while I'm with the Boston Red Sox, sitting there with the rest of the organization, and after this I said, 'What the heck was that?' And everybody on the team was like, 'What was that?' And the response we got was, 'Well, we know guys are taking it, so we want to make sure they're taking it the right way.' ... Where did that come from? That didn't come from the Players Association."
Oh, and the quotes only get better from the player who is busy expanding his media portfolio as a regular co-host on WEEI radio's drive-time "Big Show".
"It was like teaching your teenage daughter about sex education," Merloni told the newspaper. "The organization acknowledged that there were likely players using steroids, and basically, 'If you're going to use them, this is how you use them so you don't abuse them.'"
Wow. So, how would Duquette respond? Exactly as you'd imagine.
After all, any general manager who was technically on watch during a doctor's implicit advocacy for controlled steroid use would be ridiculed and, in all likelihood, strung up by Bud Selig at once. The only way for Duquette to avoid such a maelstrom was to respond with absolute incredulity.
I'd say he did so pretty well.
"It's ridiculous -- it's totally unfounded," Duquette said. "Who was the doctor? Tell me who the doctor is. If there was such a doctor, he wasn't in the employ of the Red Sox. We brought in doctors to educate the players on the Major League drug policy at the time at the recommendation of Major League Baseball. This is so ridiculous, I hate to even respond to it."
So, now this becomes a case of who's telling the truth. What do people think? Do you believe Merloni, in the process of transitioning from a lengthy career of mediocrity into regional fringe celebrity status, one great quote at a time? Or do you believe Duquette, who was fired in 2002 but packed away enough money from his time in Boston to live a pastoral life in the mountains of far Western Massachusetts?
Who knows. Maybe neither of them are telling the truth. Either way, it's a good story, and if it's true, it'll make for a lot more investigation and background checking of doctors dispersing the Player Association's best practice medical research in the future, to say the least.
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