Baltimore pitching prospect Bechler dies of heatstroke

Yankees' Jeter takes offense at being called party animal; Braves' Maddux signs one-year contract worth $14.75 million

Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2003

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect Steve Bechler died of heatstroke Monday, unable to recover from a spring training workout a day earlier that sent his temperature to 108 degrees.

An autopsy will help determine whether Bechler had been taking the dietary supplement ephedrine, which has been linked to heatstroke and heart attacks.

Broward County medical examiner Dr. Joshua Perper acknowledged a published report that a bottle of a supplement containing ephedrine was found in Bechler's locker.

Regarding the bottle, Perper said: ''My understanding is it exists, but we don't have it.''

A workout Sunday left Bechler pale and dizzy, and when his condition worsened, he was carried from the clubhouse to an ambulance on a stretcher. He spent the night in intensive care and died at 10:10 a.m. Monday at Northridge Medical Center.

His wife, Kiley, due to deliver the couple's first child in April, was at his bedside. She and Bechler, 23, married last year.

William Goldiner, the Orioles' team physician, said Bechler died of ''multi-organ failure due to heatstroke.''

Bechler, at 6-foot-2 and 239 pounds, had battled weight trouble in the past. Asked about the pitcher's conditioning, manager Mike Hargrove was quoted as saying it was ''not good.''

Bechler made his major league debut last September, going 0-0 with a 13.50 ERA in three relief appearances for the Orioles. The right-hander was expected to begin this season with the club's new Triple-A affiliate in Ottawa.

He spent most of last season at Triple-A Rochester, going 6-11 with a 4.09 ERA in 24 starts. He had a 35-48 record in five minor-league seasons.

Perper said his medical examiner's office would begin an autopsy Tuesday, and that it could be two or three weeks before the final results are known.

Said baseball spokesman Rich Levin: ''We're going to wait to find out more about what happened.''

Yankees

TAMPA, Fla. -- Derek Jeter wanted to say it loud and clear: He is not a party animal.

Just two hours after officially reporting for spring training, the New York Yankees' star shortstop planted himself in the dugout at Legends Field, and said he wanted to put owner George Steinbrenner's comments behind.

The five-time All-Star said he was irritated not at Steinbrenner for questioning his focus in public, but with the New York Daily News for running a ''PARTY ON'' backpage headline that portrayed him as a king of the night rather than prince of the Bronx.

''The No. 1 concern I had is I didn't want Yankee fans to be thinking that I could care less whether we win or lose,'' he said. ''The way it was painted was that I've lost focus and I'm going to continue to indulge in New York City nightlife and things like that, so that's when I felt the need to say something.''

For 30 minutes, Jeter defended his professionalism, sounding as if the events of the last few weeks had wounded his pride.

''Now, everywhere I go, people will ask you, 'Are you partying too much?' That's the No. 1 question that I get,'' Jeter said.

Steinbrenner questioned his ''focus,'' something the Boss has repeatedly told him since Jeter was a rookie, worried that off-the-field activities would detract from on-the-field performance. Jeter was ''confused'' by those comments, but not taken aback.

''I think I've been pretty responsible so far,'' Jeter said.

Braves

ATLANTA -- Greg Maddux is used to setting records. On Monday, he claimed another.

The four-time Cy Young Award winner avoided an arbitration hearing by agreeing to the largest one-year contract in baseball history, a $14.75 million deal with the Atlanta Braves.

The previous record for a one-year contract was pitcher David Cone's $12 million deal with the New York Yankees in 2000.

Maddux became a free agent after winning 16 games last season, but failed to draw much interest in the open market. He accepted the Braves' offer of arbitration in December, binding him to the team for the 2003 season.

Maddux had asked for $16 million and the Braves countered with an offer of $13.5 million.

The two sides split the difference, agreeing on a contract right in the middle.

and avoiding a hearing that was scheduled for Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

''Greg called me (Sunday) and told me he had indications from the team that they wanted to make a step toward settlement,'' said Maddux's agent, Scott Boras. ''He directed me to look at that, which we did.''

Braves general manager John Schuerholz said Maddux actually made the first move.

''We had always thought that if we were able to get to a midpoint settlement, we would be amenable to that,'' Schuerholz said. ''His comments to me indicated that he was also going to be amenable to it, too. We continued to discuss it and got it done.''

Maddux, who will be 37 shortly after opening day, went 16-6 with a 2.62 ERA last season. He tied Cy Young as the only pitchers in baseball history to win at least 15 games in 15 consecutive seasons.

------

MESA, Ariz. (AP) -- The Sammy Sosa watch is over.

The Chicago Cubs' right fielder, usually late for spring training, told manager Dusty Baker he would arrive at camp on time this year. Sosa was expected to fly into Phoenix on Tuesday, the day position players are due to report, Baker said Monday.

''In past years, you didn't expect Sammy to be here, did you?'' Baker said. ''Well, he called yesterday. I had a conversation with him, and he wanted me to tell you guys (the media) that he will be here tomorrow.''

For the past several years, Sosa has made a habit of arriving from his home in the Dominican Republic several days after his teammates reported. Although never technically late for spring training, Sosa's absence was always noticed.

The 34-year-old outfielder attributed his tardy arrival to superstition and a fondness for the same routine. Beginning in 1998, he has had seasons of 66, 63, 50, 64 and 49 home runs, winning the NL home run title in 2002 and 2000.

Baker, who has experience handling superstars and their quirks after managing Barry Bonds for a decade in San Francisco, was asked whether Sosa's early arrival was a sign of respect.

''Well, maybe some of it,'' Baker said. ''I can't take credit for Sammy. I've got to give Sammy credit for Sammy. Some of it might be me, but most of it has to come from inside.''



CONTACT US

  • Switchboard: 907-283-7551
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-283-3584
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Business Fax: 907-283-3299
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-335-1257
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING

MORRIS ALASKA NEWS