Segui takes stand-up role about drug use in MLB

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- David Segui, taking a break on a recent morning from a cardio workout in the large gym and fitness center situated on his country estate, isn't mincing words.

Yes, he used performance-enhancing drugs late in his 15-year career in Major League Baseball. And he doesn't feel guilty about it.

"Obviously, I've done 'growth,'" says Segui. "I'm not going to tell you I never took a 'greenie' [amphetamine]. I'm not going to tell you I never tried steroids before.

"I'm not going to be one of these guys: 'No, no, I never did this.' Baloney. I see guys on TV all the time claiming they never did anything. Come on, please. I don't think it is anybody's business to come out and tell everything they did; but at same time, I am not going to sit here and pretend I never tried something before."

Segui is the only player so far to acknowledge publicly that he is named in the Jason Grimsley affidavit, the much-ballyhooed document in which the journeyman pitcher allegedly identified suspected performance-enhanced players to federal agents. After the affidavit was unsealed last year, Segui said, he was contacted by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell's staff, but hasn't met with anyone involved with the baseball committee investigating the use of drugs in the game.

Segui first disclosed his use of human growth hormone to ESPN last year. He acknowledges that he has had a doctor's prescription for HGH – one of sports' most controversial and undetectable substances -- since 2001, when he was diagnosed with low levels of the hormone. But he also admits now that he used it before then to speed up his recovery from a hand injury.

"The stuff is amazing for that purpose," Segui says. "That is how it started in baseball. When I first came in the league is when Tommy John [elbow] surgery started to become more prevalent. I remember guys coming back from [the surgery] and throwing harder. I remember hearing [of] guys using growth hormone to speed up the healing process and regenerate the tendon growth and all that stuff. That is how it became known for its healing properties. And then guys would have [other] surgeries, and that is what they would take.

"So I laugh every time I read an article that says it is a performance-enhancer. It doesn't enhance your performance. If you are horse crap, you are going to be horse crap when you come off the [disabled list]. You're just going to come off the DL quicker."

Major League Baseball didn't ban human growth hormone until early in 2005, though the drug had been around the game for at least a decade prior to that. Segui told ESPN.com he first used it during the 1998 season when he was with the Mariners, without the knowledge of Seattle's training and medical staff.

In a game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Segui says he dislocated the ring and pinky fingers on his right glove hand trying to field a hot shot down the first-base line. He panicked and pulled at the fingers. They went numb, and his strength was zapped.

When the nerve damage was slow to respond and doctors were unable to guarantee a full recovery, Segui says he found a "buddy" who got him some HGH.

"I took it because I knew it sped up the process," he says. "Within less than a month, [the strength] was all back. Taking it without a doctor's prescription, I admit, was a risk. But at that point in your career, you are willing to take that risk."

Segui, now 41 and in his third year of retirement from the game, no longer worries about his next contract or how to stay on the field. But he says he continues to follow a doctor's orders in dealing with a hormone deficiency. He keeps the prescribed synthetic growth hormone in his refrigerator. First thing in the morning or last thing at night, he grabs some loose flesh around his stomach and injects himself.

He doesn't advocate breaking the rules and he doesn't encourage the use of HGH unless it is under doctor's orders. But he is puzzled by what he perceives to be a media-driven hysteria regarding drugs in the sport. He believes human growth hormone mistakenly has been lumped in with steroids and other performance-enhancers.

"All the cortisone injections I got in my career, were they performance enhancing?" asks Segui, who played with seven different teams. "Because they served the same purpose as the growth hormone. They get me through the injuries, speed up the healing and reduce the inflammation. They don't make you better. They're just going to get you back quicker. So what is the difference?

"I've been on teams that you couldn't beg them to give you a cortisone shot; and been on teams before you blinked, the needle is already in your knee. So what if you are on a team that didn't readily give them out? Were you at a disadvantage? Did the other organization's players have an advantage because they were able to get a cortisone injection? Because there is no such thing as a level playing field. That is a myth."

Mike Fish is an investigative reporter for ESPN.com. He can be reached at michaeljfish@gmail.com.