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Thread: Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

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    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

    http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbc...44/1002/SPORTS

    BY DAVID JONES
    FLORIDA TODAY

    With a federal indictment looming over Barry Bonds, the steroids issue casts a cloud over the game that continues to grow darker with each passing home run.

    Was it real, or was it enhancements?

    Larry Starr, a trainer for 30 years with the Cincinnati Reds and Florida Marlins, was among those who tried to warn baseball almost two decades ago that trouble was brewing. Retired from the game and currently an assistant athletic director at Nova Southeastern, he laments if only those in charge had listened.

    "Here's the thing that really bothers me," Starr said in a recent interview with FLORIDA TODAY. "They sit there, meaning the commissioner's office, Bud Selig and that group, and the players' association, Don Fehr and that group . . . they sit there and say, 'Well, now that we know that this happened we're going to do something about it.'

    "I have notes from the Winter Meetings where the owners group and the players' association sat in meetings with the team physicians and team trainers. I was there. And team physicians stood up and said, 'Look, we need to do something about this. We've got a problem here if we don't do something about it.' That was in 1988."

    A Starr witness

    Today, a lot of people in baseball are very interested in listening to what Starr and some others have to say. The committee investigating the steroids issue headed by former Sen. George Mitchell has interviewed Starr four times, and he expects to be called again. Starr told FLORIDA TODAY there were some players on the Florida Marlins' team that won the franchise's first World Series in 1997 that used steroids.

    While fans hear the names McGwire, Sosa and Bonds when the steroids issue is discussed, Starr's name is actually a very popular one with the committee trying to figure out just how rampant the problem is in baseball.

    "I'm in a neat position after being in baseball for 30 years and not being involved in it now," Starr said.

    He said he's very familiar "what elements came into the game" while he was in baseball.

    While Starr won't name players' names, he did estimate to FLORIDA TODAY there were "some teams that had a high percentage" of players using steroids while he was still in the game.

    "By high percentage, meaning 30 to 40 percent of the team might have been using," Starr said. "(But) some teams had maybe only one or two."

    Starr was one of the most admired and respected trainers in baseball during his career. Through the years, he watched the steroid problem grow worse and worse. By the late '80s he was concerned.

    Since baseball did not have drug testing, Starr said he felt frustrated. He didn't feel like he could protect the players from themselves or those pushing steroids on the athletes. So he took a different stance. He tried to help them as much as he could when they had problems with the performance enhancers some experimented with.

    Tried to help

    "My whole thing is, I don't totally blame the players," Starr said. "They didn't abuse the system. They used the system. The system was such that there was no testing so . . . the bad thing was it really put the medical people in a bad situation. If we couldn't test, there was no way we could accuse somebody point blank that they were using some type of performance-enhancing substance."

    Starr said he first realized a player was using steroids on the Reds in 1984.

    "Here's the position I took," he said. "If I can't test, if I can't do anything objective with them, what I told my players was come on in (the training room). If you've got any questions, we'll close the door, close the blinds, there will be no papers, no pencils and what do you want to know. And I'd tell them everything I knew."

    Several players came to Starr after their bodies had strange reactions to steroids, and he tried to guide them. With so much money in the game, it was only logical there would be a lot of experimentation. And it continued when he left Cincinnati to join the expansion Marlins in the 1990s.

    "When Mark McGwire was discovered taking androstenedione, when that hit ESPN, four players walked into my office within an hour and asked, 'Where can I get androstenedione,' " Starr said.

    By the late '80s, he estimates that "20-30 percent" of the big-league players were using steroids.

    "If Mark McGwire's hitting home runs out of the stadium, wouldn't you want to do the same thing?" Starr said. "Especially when this stuff came from GNC, and they weren't told they couldn't use it. They weren't told they couldn't use steroids. So why not? Especially when people that were selling it to them were telling them there were no harmful effects."

    Starr has refused to give the Mitchell committee the names of any players who used steroids, but he's been asked many times in subtle ways, "What about this guy?"

    Lamenting failures

    Starr remembers one player who ended the season in 1989 weighing 171 pounds. In the spring, the same player reported to camp weighing 205, and his body fat had actually dropped from eight percent to 5.8. That was one of the moments that frightened him the most -- a player who was obviously loaded with performance enhancers to a dangerous point.

    He still thinks about some of those players he tried to help when they were in the middle of all the experimenting that has gone on in the past 20 years or so in baseball and worries about the possible long-term ramifications -- both to the game and the individuals' bodies.

    "One year, we did a little survey (among the big-league trainers), and we got 20 names of players who gained anywhere from 35 to 50 pounds, and their body mass index went down," Starr said. "That's almost impossible. . . . My job was to keep people healthy, my job was to keep people from injuring themselves. I couldn't do that. I wasn't able to do the things I could do to protect these guys."
    My dad got to enjoy 3 Reds World Championships by the time he was my age. So far, I've only gotten to enjoy one. Step it up Redlegs!

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    Member Jpup's Avatar
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    Re: Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

    WOW. This entire saga is getting uglier by the moment. I think baseball is digging up things it really doesn't want to become public knowledge. It's sad.
    "My mission is to be the ray of hope, the guy who stands out there on that beautiful field and owns up to his mistakes and lets people know it's never completely hopeless, no matter how bad it seems at the time. I have a platform and a message, and now I go to bed at night, sober and happy, praying I can be a good messenger." -Josh Hamilton

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    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Re: Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

    That player in 1989 would have been a Red...I'm trying to remember back to my 12 year old self and think of who it might have been. Dibble's the first name that comes to mind, but that's mainly because he threw that ball in the stands and hit the woman in the chest.
    My dad got to enjoy 3 Reds World Championships by the time he was my age. So far, I've only gotten to enjoy one. Step it up Redlegs!

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    Vampire Weekend @Bernie's camisadelgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

    Here's another good Starr thread, just in case you haven't yet read it and are interested:
    http://www.redszone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=32504

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    Member Jpup's Avatar
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    Re: Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

    Quote Originally Posted by savafan View Post
    That player in 1989 would have been a Red...I'm trying to remember back to my 12 year old self and think of who it might have been. Dibble's the first name that comes to mind, but that's mainly because he threw that ball in the stands and hit the woman in the chest.
    Dibble has continuously talked like he has never touched the stuff. I can't listen to him much, but he acts like he's innocent.

    I just read that other thread and the consensus back then was that it was Kal Daniels. Not a suprise, but I sure didn't think of such things when I was 8 years old. (1988). As long as it wasn't Davis, I'm good. I would have to rethink my childhood if it was.
    Last edited by Jpup; 11-27-2007 at 05:42 AM.
    "My mission is to be the ray of hope, the guy who stands out there on that beautiful field and owns up to his mistakes and lets people know it's never completely hopeless, no matter how bad it seems at the time. I have a platform and a message, and now I go to bed at night, sober and happy, praying I can be a good messenger." -Josh Hamilton

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    Re: Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

    Quote Originally Posted by Jpup View Post
    Dibble has continuously talked like he has never touched the stuff. I can't listen to him much, but he acts like he's innocent.

    I just read that other thread and the consensus back then was that it was Kal Daniels. Not a suprise, but I sure didn't think of such things when I was 8 years old. (1988). As long as it wasn't Davis, I'm good. I would have to rethink my childhood if it was.
    Same here on Eric Davis. I really don't think it was him though, as I remember Davis was a twig for the vast majority of his playing days. There was just nowhere to put additional muscle on that body.

    Kal Daniels makes sense. What about Glenn Braggs? I only remember him as being huge so I guess I assumed he was always that big.
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    Re: Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

    For some reasons, when I saw Starr was aware of an '84 Red taking steroids, the first names to pop into my mind were Dave Parker, Paul Householder and Brad Leslie.
    Honestly, not sure why.

    But for us to think steroids is only a recent problem is foolhardy. Remember, Tom House said steroids were very popular in the '60s and '70s.

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    Ripsnort wheels's Avatar
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    Re: Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

    Quote Originally Posted by Sabo Fan View Post
    Same here on Eric Davis. I really don't think it was him though, as I remember Davis was a twig for the vast majority of his playing days. There was just nowhere to put additional muscle on that body.

    Kal Daniels makes sense. What about Glenn Braggs? I only remember him as being huge so I guess I assumed he was always that big.
    Braggs wasn't a Red until midway through the 1990 season, but I'd bet he was on something.

    The numbers that really had me thinking were 171 lbs, 5.8% body fat.....I really hope it wasn't Davis.

    The thing that really bothers me about this is the long term health of some of the players I grew up watching. I really don't want to see Eric Davis wasting away a la Lyle Alzado. That would totally break my heart.

    Something about Eric's overall demeanor and personality leads me to believe he wouldn't touch the stuff, though.
    "We know we're better than this, but we can't prove it." - Tony Gwynn

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    Ripsnort wheels's Avatar
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    Re: Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

    Oh yeah, another thing.

    If someone trains correctly, they don't even need that stuff. Yeah, it takes longer to net results, but that's a good thing. The faster a guy grows muscle, the more chance there is for ligament and joint damage. The body just can't withstand rapid muscle growth. At least, that's what my trainers tell me.
    "We know we're better than this, but we can't prove it." - Tony Gwynn

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    Re: Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

    Quote Originally Posted by wheels View Post
    The numbers that really had me thinking were 171 lbs, 5.8% body fat.....I really hope it wasn't Davis.
    If you re-read the quote, it is 171 lbs. and 8 percent body fat in 1988, 205 lbs. and 5 percent in 1989. Eric Davis *never* weighed 205, so it wasn't him.

    Kal Daniels certainly fits the profile, though.

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    Re: Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

    Starr remembers one player who ended the season in 1989 weighing 171 pounds. In the spring, the same player reported to camp weighing 205, and his body fat had actually dropped from eight percent to 5.8. That was one of the moments that frightened him the most -- a player who was obviously loaded with performance enhancers to a dangerous point.
    Good lord, not this quote again...

    http://www.redszone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=32504

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    Re: Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

    Starr first became aware of a player using steroids in 1988. The player asked him about potentially harmful side effects after he reported to spring training 30 pounds heavier with nearly three percent less body fat.

    Starr warned the player about the possibility of liver problems and kidney damage. He said so little was known about the effects of steroid abuse that he couldn't predict how the drug might impact the player in later years.

    The player used steroids despite Starr's warnings and had a productive season. The player used steroids to prolong his career, but a series of injuries, which may have been steroid-related, ended it.
    I would hope I'm wrong but everything about that too me screams Eric Davis.
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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

    Why do I get the feeling that Selig is tying the noose by which he'll hang?
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Member LINEDRIVER's Avatar
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    Re: Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

    Eric Davis??? I would of guessed Lenny Harris or Chris Sabo before Eric Davis.

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    Re: Former Reds trainer watches steroids debate with great interest

    Quote Originally Posted by Mario-Rijo View Post
    I would hope I'm wrong but everything about that too me screams Eric Davis.

    Except the part about gaining 30 lbs.
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