FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos called on major league baseball to ban ephedrine, a stimulant that may have contributed to the death of pitcher Steve Bechler.
Bechler, an Orioles pitching prospect, died Monday, a day after he was unable to complete a workout. Xenadrine, which contains ephedrine, was found in his locker.
''Unfortunately, we're all human and don't move until something very grim and very tragic like this occurs,'' Angelos said Wednesday. ''Hopefully, if anything positive can come from this tragedy, it will be that we'll get the kind of movement we need in these circumstances.''
Angelos was a member of management's labor negotiating committee last summer. Under the new contract, players will be tested for the first time, but only for drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, and certain types of banned steroids.
''Our side insisted that these so-called legal supplements (such as ephedrine) be included in the ban,'' Angelos said. ''Unfortunately, the union rejected our position.''
Gene Orza, the union's No. 2 official, said Angelos' assertion was incorrect.
''They did request androstenedione (be banned),'' Orza said Thursday, ''but not ephedra. Ephedra did not fall into the general category of anabolic steroids.''
A management lawyer said owners didn't include ephedrine in their proposal after the union made clear during initial discussions that it wouldn't go along.
The Ephedra Education Council said Thursday that Bechler's death should not automatically be linked to the dietary supplement.
''So far, I have trouble believing ephedra played a role in this tragedy,'' Dr. Carlon Colker, CEO and medical director of Peak Wellness Inc., said Thursday on a conference call arranged by the council. ''This was clearly a case of heat stroke. Taking ephedra as directed does not lead to heat stroke.''
Ephedra is banned by the NFL, the NCAA and IOC but not by major league baseball. The Food and Drug Administration has reports of at least 100 deaths linked to the supplement, which is used in weight loss programs.
Millar agrees to $5.3 million, two-year deal
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Kevin Millar agreed to a $5.3 million, two-year contract with the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, ending complicated offseason negotiations that nearly took him to Japan.
''It's been such a long haul, but I think officially I can take a deep breath and understand I'm really a true Boston Red Sox,'' Millar said.
The contract includes a $3.5 million player option for 2005 that would become guaranteed if Millar has 800 plate appearances the next two seasons.
Baseball: Rose reinstatement unlikely by Reds opener
NEW YORK (AP) -- Pete Rose can just about forget participating in the ceremonies that open the Cincinnati Reds' new ballpark on March 31.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig doesn't plan to consider Rose's application for reinstatement before opening day, a high-ranking baseball official said Thursday on the condition of anonymity.
Rose met with Selig in November and Rose's agent met with Bob DuPuy, baseball's No. 2 official, the following month. Rose's application for reinstatement seemed to be gaining momentum before a report that a $151,689 lien was placed on his Los Angeles-area home by the Internal Revenue Service, which says Rose owes taxes from 1998.
Baseball officials also were disturbed by reports that he was seen in a Las Vegas casino and sports book, and are investigating Rose's current activities.
Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken had written to Selig in November, urging that Rose be reinstated by the first game in the Reds' new stadium, named the Great American Ball Park.
Asked if there was any chance of that occurring, the baseball official said it was ''almost a certainty'' that Selig wouldn't take any action in the next two months.
Rose's manager, Warren Greene, declined comment and Selig didn't return telephone calls seeking comment.
The Reds had asked permission to include Rose at the celebration of Cinergy Field's final game last year but were turned down by the commissioner's office. They haven't been included in the talks between baseball officials and Rose.
''Nobody has contacted us,'' Reds spokesman Rob Butcher said. We're not aware of any conversations between MLB and Pete Rose.''
Even if Rose doesn't participate in the stadium opening, he'll be honored at the ballpark, which is adjacent to the site of the former Riverfront Stadium. There will be a Rose Garden marking the spot where Rose's record-breaking 4,192nd hit landed -- outside the right-field grandstand. Also, there is a large photograph on the back of the left-field videoboard showing the black Mizuno bat and the baseball that Rose hit for the record-breaker.
Rose agreed to a lifetime ban in August 1989 following a probe of his gambling. While baseball investigator John Dowd detailed 412 baseball wagers in 1987, including 52 on Cincinnati to win, Rose has repeatedly denied he bet on baseball.
Baseball officials have said Rose must admit he bet on baseball if there he is ever to gain reinstatement. As long as he is banned, he is ineligible for the Hall of Fame ballot.
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