Brendan Donnelly is 36 years old and coming off Tommy John surgery. He fought his way to the big leagues through independent leagues, seven days as pitching coach of the Nashua Pride and one time throwing a brushback pitch that knocked down a woman on the opposing team in an indy league game in West Virginia.
He ain't no icon carved out of soap; he's fought for every penny he's ever earned.
He was home in Arizona, "eating popcorn and watching the whole [George] Mitchell thing," and up popped his name. "I was," Donnelly says, "sick to my stomach."
Donnelly is tied to Kirk Radomski for supposedly asking him for Anavar and being supplied with Deca-Durabolin in 2004, when Donnelly had nosebleed and arm problems.
Here is Donnelly's statement: "In 2004, I was having multiple physical problems and was concerned about not getting back on the field for even close to the level I had experienced. I made a phone call to Radomski. We discussed Anavar.
"Upon learning that Anavar was classified as a steroid, I realized that was not an option. That was the end of it. Yes, I called him. But I did not purchase or receive anything from him. I never took Deca or Anavar. I do want to fully support the testing program of Major League Baseball, and I support wider testing."
Donnelly pitched in 27 games for the Red Sox in 2007, with a 2-1 record and 3.05 ERA, and earned his second World Series ring. He had continued arm problems as the season wore on and eventually had surgery. He was non-tendered by Boston before the release of the Mitchell report, but intended to work out a deal where he could re-sign and perhaps be back in the majors sometime in the 2008 season.
In his report, Mitchell also released an interoffice e-mail in which a Red Sox official questioned whether Donnelly had once used steroids when he was with the Angels. "We are dealing with that," Donnelly says, "and I understand the situation and how badly people in the organization feel about the way it was made public. I hope to come back to the Red Sox."
At 36, Donnelly has four years and 97 days in the big leagues after all those minor and indy league bus rides and, in those four-plus seasons, has totaled less than $3.5 million. He never pulled in what Radomski made, never billed by the hour, and he says there is no paper anywhere that would tie him to any purchase from the former Mets clubhouse entrepreneur.
He is, in baseball terms, a grunt who has found himself and his career caught in the crossfire of the millionaires and billionaires of the steroids era. "I haven't slept since that came out," Donnelly says. "I'm still sick."
Peter Gammons is a baseball analyst for ESPN.