Prospect charged with cocaine possession

When people talk about baseball's drug problem, I don't think this is what they mean:

    Phillies prospect Tyson Gillies, one of the three players acquired in the Cliff Lee trade this past offseason, was arrested for cocaine possession in Clearwater, Fla., early Friday morning.

Gillies, 21, was arrested by Pinellas County Sheriff's Officers at 1:48 a.m. Friday morning, according to a spokeswoman. The possession charge is a felony.

Gillies was released from jail at 10:52 a.m. on a $2,000 cash bond.


This past week, Gillies saw his first game action since June. The Vancouver native played three games for the Gulf Coast League Phillies.

On Wednesday, Gillies told his hometown newspaper, The Kamloops Daily News, that he was "finally figuring out the little things coaches have been trying to explain, things you have to struggle with and feel for yourself."

But after three games in the Gulf Coast League, he was shut down again because of the bothersome hamstring. He told the paper he could be headed for a visit with renowned orthopedist James Andrews for an examination.Well, this is obviously a shame.

But let's not drum the kid out of the game just yet.

You don't hear much about cocaine anymore. But it's still out there -- and recently made a special guest appearance on Entourage-- and we would be terribly naive to think that young athletes are uniformly immune to its purported charms. And it's worth remembering that there are, right now, beloved Hall of Famers who routinely used cocaine in the 1970s and '80s.

I'm not going to get into our drug policies in this space. I will argue that once Gillies has dealt with the legal issues, he should eventually be allowed to continue his baseball career. Last year he batted .341 in the California League, and entered this season with a .419 career on-base percentage. When healthy, he's got fantastic range in center field and he supposedly had the best outfield arm in Seattle's farm system.

Gillies is also legally deaf. I'm not inclined to cut him slack because of that. I'm inclined to cut him slack because he's 21 years old. And because people make mistakes.