Helling, Myers added to MLBPA staff

NEW YORK -- Former major league pitchers Rick Helling and Mike Myers have been hired as special assistants to union head Donald Fehr.

The ex-pitchers are former members of the union's executive board. They join Bobby Bonilla, Phil Bradley, Stan Javier and Steve Rogers as special assistants.

Fehr said Tuesday that Helling and Myers are familiar with the needs of the players and understand the union's role in serving its members.

Helling, 38, graduated from Stanford University in 1993 with an economics degree and spent 13 seasons in the major leagues as a starter with Texas, Florida, Arizona, Baltimore and Milwaukee.

He recently attracted attention in the Joe Torre-Tom Verducci book, "The Yankee Years" as an early "whistleblower" against the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

According to the book, Helling stood up at a Players Association executive board meeting during the winter of 1998 and warned his fellow union leaders that steroid use had become a major problem in the game.

"It's happening. It's real," Helling said, according to the account of the meeting in the book. "And it's so prevalent that guys who aren't doing it are feeling pressure to do it because they're falling behind. It's not a level playing field. We've got to figure out a way to address it."

David Cone, a central figure in the book, told Verducci that Helling "was the first guy who had the guts to stand up at a union meeting and say that in front of everybody and put pressure on it."

Despite Helling's warnings, Major League Baseball did not begin "survey testing" to gauge the extent of steroid use until 2003.

Helling, whose career went gradually downhill after he won 20 games for the Rangers in 1998, retired after the 2006 season at age 35.

Information from ESPN.com baseball writer Jerry Crasnick and The Associated Press was used in this report.