Former Red Sox starter admits steriod use

Updated: June 22, 2006, 9:58 AM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- Former Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Paxton Crawford said he used steroids during his time with the Red Sox in the major and minor leagues, claiming in a magazine story, "It was just everywhere."

Crawford, who detailed his steroid use for this week's issue of ESPN The Magazine, gave a brief telephone interview to The Boston Globe published Thursday, in which he said numerous players in the Boston system used performance-enhancing drugs.

"It was just everywhere," he said.

Crawford declined to be specific and hung up, saying, "So, anyway, it's kind of a sore subject, bro. That's it."

In a first-person story in ESPN The Magazine, Crawford said he began using steroids in 1999 in minor league camp with the Red Sox and continued during stints with big league club in 2000 and 2001.

He's the first big league player who's been suspended for steroid use or acknowledged steroid use who was a member of the Red Sox organization at the time he used.

Crawford told ESPN The Magazine that he began using the drugs because he was always pitching in pain.

"During minor league spring training with the Red Sox in 1999, some of the other guys saw I was hurting," he said. "They told me that if I took this stuff, it would make the pain go away and cut my recovery time in half. Shoot, why not? I'm just a country boy. I didn't even think twice.

"It seemed like everybody else was doing it, so it wasn't a big deal, right?"

Crawford said he began by injecting himself with Deca Durabolin, which he said helped with recovery, and Winstrol, which he said helped him gain velocity. He said he also noticed more movement on his breaking pitches.

He said he later began using human growth hormone after another player introduced him to it, but stopped because it made his muscles too lean and tight.

Crawford portrayed his steroid use as widely known in the Red Sox clubhouse, and recalled a time that he left his needles in a towel on his chair and a teammate ran to tell him they'd been knocked onto the floor.

"He said it was the funniest thing he'd ever seen, told me I was nuts," he said. "But that's the way it was back then."

Both Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield, who were teammates with Crawford in 2001, told the Globe the scene with the needles was difficult to believe. Wakefield told the Boston Herald Crawford shouldn't "deface" the organization by saying others told him to take steroids.

"No one forced him to take anything," Wakefield said. "I remember him not being too bright. That's what I remember about him."

Mike Port, who was assistant GM during the years Crawford acknowledged using steroids, told the Globe he had no indication Crawford was using steroids.

"I remember he wasn't throwing the ball well. But I never had any reason to suspect anything," Port said. "Nor do I expect any of us did. He was a big strong fellow to begin with."

The current management of the team had no immediate comment.

Crawford made 15 appearances with Boston between 2000 and 2001, going 5-1 with a 4.15 ERA. His major league career ended shortly after he suffered a stress fracture in his lower back in June 2001 and had shoulder surgery in February 2002. The Red Sox released him in October 2002.

He later pitched in the Cincinnati Reds minor league system, where he was suspended in August 2004 for violating the league's alcohol and drug abuse policy. He retired last summer after playing with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League. Now, he's home in Arkansas, helping his parents on the family farm. Crawford was born in Little Rock but was drafted out of high school from Carlsbad, N.M.

Crawford, who said he'd never name names, said he thought steroids might have contributed to his injuries.

"I was taking way too much stuff, and I'd get rattled," he said. "You can't get rattled in the big leagues. And then I messed up my back. I think the steroids had something to do with that, too.

"It's like playing with fire."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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