Bronson Arroyo, a 2003 Red Sox [team stats] teammate of David Ortiz [stats] and Manny Ramirez [stats], said yesterday he would not be shocked to discover his name on the list of 104 major league ballplayers who tested positive in the spring of 2003 for using performance-enhancing drugs.
His reason may shed light on what may have happened to Ortiz in 2003, as well.
Back then, Arroyo said via phone from Cincinnati, he was using both androstenedione, which was not banned until the 2004 season, and amphetamines, which were not banned until 2006.
The only reason Arroyo stopped using andro was because he heard through the grapevine that, because of lax production standards, some andro was laced with known steroids, such as Winstrol.
Mandatory testing for PEDs began in 2004 after the 2003 testing program had its threshold-breaking number of positives.
“Before 2004, none of us paid any attention to anything we took,” said the Reds starter. “Now they don’t want us to take anything unless it’s approved. But back then, who knows what was in stuff? The FDA wasn’t regulating stuff, not unless it was killing people or people were dying from it.”
Arroyo, who pitched for the Red Sox from 2003-05, said he began taking andro after 1998, when he finished his Double-A season with the Pirates. He loved the effect.
“Andro made me feel great, I felt like a monster. I felt like I could jump and hit my head on the basketball rim,” Arroyo said of the substance that became infamous after it was discovered in the locker of slugger Mark McGwire during his historic 1998 home run chase.
Arroyo said he had no idea about what Ortiz and Ramirez were taking, if anything, in 2003. He said he observed teammates then who were obsessive about taking nutritional supplements and others who never had a protein shake. His knowledge of what others did stopped when he left the ballpark.
“Everyone has their own lives, nobody knows what anybody does at night,” said Arroyo. “Nobody knew Ken Caminiti was smoking crack. At the end of the day, we all have our own lives. It’s not a frat house in the big leagues where you go back to the dorm at night and everybody knows what everyone’s doing.”
Arroyo feels that yesterday’s New York Times [NYT] story that stated Ortiz and Ramirez tested positive should not take away from their accomplishments - or his more modest ones.
“In my mind, I think you have to lump the whole era together,” said Arroyo. “A lot of people were doing it, a lot weren’t. I think pitchers probably gained three or four mph on their pitches and power hitters got some more power.
“But guys like David and Manny, if they did something, it didn’t make them who they were. Did it make them a little better? Probably.”
Since 2004, when he stopped using andro, and 2006, when he stopped taking greenies (and switched to caffeine and ginseng), Arroyo said he has not experienced a negative dropoff in his performance - but his ability to recover between starts has changed.
“I’ve thrown with probably the same velocity since high school, so I never noticed a dropoff. But I felt more strong in the weight room than on the playing field,” said Arroyo.
Arroyo said he’s glad testing is in the game now.
“I feel like the game’s getting cleared up,” he said. “Personally, I don’t care what people think about what I did. I do what I do.”