Reading the Mitchell Report, Way Too Quickly, So You Don't Have To

Categories: Sports
Juan Gonzalez and his trainer, Angel (“Nao”) Presinal, are big players in the Mitchell Report.

After the jump, all the sections of the Mitchell Report dealing with the Texas Rangers -- going all the way back to Ferguson Jenkins and his drug arrest in Canada. As for the names leaked earlier in connection to steroid or Human Growth Hormone use, some of them ain't there. But there are others. Here's the complete list, broken down.

Juan Gonzalez, Jose Canseco and Rafael Palmiero's names all appear, of course, as do David Segui, Eric Gagne, Mike Stanton, Gregg Zaun, Chad Allen, Steve Woodard -- short-stinters with Texas whose names were provided by former New York Mets bat boy and clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski. Also making the report: pitcher Ismael Valdez and outfielder Jerry Hairston Jr. And pitcher Kevin Brown.

One interesting note: The report cites e-mails between Tom Hicks and Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, who were interested in trading for Miguel Tejada two years ago. But they passed, because they knew there might be a steroids issue.

In December 2005, Texas Rangers owner Thomas O. Hicks and general manager Jon Daniels engaged in an email exchange about possible trade discussions. In one email, Daniels stated that he had “some steroids concerns with Tejada,” and cited Tejada’s decreased productivity over the second half of the 2005 season.

Also, notes the report, "The Texas Rangers have retained Dr. Jay Hoffman, Professor in Health and Education Science and a former National Football League player, as a confidential resource for its players regarding performance enhancing substance use. ... Jamie Reed, head athletic trainer for the Texas Rangers and President of the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainer Society, told us that because Dr. Hoffman is a former athlete, players respond very well to his anti-steroid message and are more open to accept his attestations concerning its use."

Here's more.

2. The Ferguson Jenkins Decision

In 1980, future Hall of Fame member Ferguson Jenkins, then a pitcher with the Texas Rangers, was arrested in Canada for possession of marijuana, hashish, and cocaine discovered by customs officials in an inspection of luggage on the team’s charter flight into Toronto. In an interview by baseball officials following his arrest, Jenkins declined to answer certain questions on the advice of his counsel.

Commissioner Kuhn suspended Jenkins with pay because he “declined to cooperate” with the Commissioner’s investigation of the incident.95 The Players Association filed a grievance challenging Jenkins’s suspension, and in the resulting decision a majority of the panel of arbitrators rescinded it, concluding that the suspension had been without “just cause” (the owner’s representative on the arbitration panel dissented).

The majority of the three-member arbitration panel concluded that it was unclear whether the Commissioner had suspended Jenkins due to his arrest for possession of drugs or due to his refusal to answer the Commissioner’s questions about the arrest. Neither basis, however, provided “just cause” for the suspension, in the majority’s view. The majority reasoned that “under controlling principles of United States and Canadian law – as well as fundamental rules of fair play – Jenkins must be presumed innocent until he is proven guilty"

While there might be instances in which an employer would have the latitude to suspend an employee before trial – such as an arrest for a violent crime or “where the repellant nature of the charge, and the attendant publicity, cause realistic concerns about adverse effects on the
employer’s business” – in the majority’s view Jenkins’s arrest for possession of 1.75 ounces of marijuana, 2.2 grams of hashish, and 3.0 grams of cocaine was not that type of “repellant” charge.

The majority also concluded that Jenkins’s refusal to answer the Commissioner’s questions could not be “just cause” for the suspension because “the Commissioner was compelling Jenkins to jeopardize his defense in court” and there was “no compelling reason why the investigation into Jenkins’[s] activities could not have awaited the outcome of the trial."

The Jenkins decision represented the first substantial limitation on the Commissioner’s power to impose discipline on major league players and to compel a player to cooperate with an investigation, at least when criminal charges are pending against him.

In his announcement of this investigation, Commissioner Selig alluded to the decision when he said that “an investigation of the illegal use of performance enhancing substances by a player or
players is an extraordinarily difficult undertaking. . . . Arbitrators have been reluctant to allow
compelled, potentially self-incriminating testimony and, unlike governmental law enforcement
officials, Major League Baseball lacks the authority to grant immunity.”

Excerpt from Section D. The Joint Drug Program Under the Basic Agreement, 2002 to Present

In a June 2002 cover story, Sports Illustrated reported that Ken Caminiti had admitted using anabolic steroids in 1996, the year he won the National League Most Valuable Player award, and for a number of seasons thereafter.153 In the article, Caminiti also said that steroid use was widespread in Major League Baseball, an assertion that was supported by others quoted in the story.154 The Sports Illustrated article, together with allegations by former American League outfielder (and former American League MVP) Jose Canseco about widespread steroid use in baseball, spurred a June 2002 hearing of a U.S. Senate subcommittee.

At the Senate hearing, Manfred described a meeting of several team physicians in January 2001 in which the physicians expressed their concern to Commissioner Selig that steroids were presenting a threat to players and to the integrity of the game. Manfred noted that there had been a 16% increase in the number of players going on the disabled list over a three year period, and the length of their stays on the disabled list had grown longer. According to Manfred, the consensus among the team physicians at the meeting was that use of steroids had been a contributing factor.

The physicians meeting that Manfred described was held in Milwaukee, and was attended by, among others, Dr. William Bryan of the Houston Astros, Dr. John Cantwell of the Atlanta Braves, Dr. John E. Conway of the Texas Rangers, and Dr. Michael Mellman of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The meeting was convened by the Commissioner in anticipation of the coming negotiations with the Players Association about a drug program and also to discuss implementation of the minor league drug testing program that year. Dr. Mellman recalled that all of the physicians who attended the meeting had suspicions about steroid use on their respective teams and said “we all had stories” about steroid use by players and its impact on their health. He remembered that the consensus among the team physicians was that steroid use was “prevalent” in Major League Baseball at the time.

Dr. Mellman believed that the subject of steroid use in baseball had been under discussion before the meeting but felt that Commissioner Selig expressed a genuine sense of concern about the issue at the meeting. Selig recalled that he came away from the meeting being “deeply troubled about steroids.”

E. Canadian Border Service Seizure of Steroids in Toronto, October 2001

On the evening of October 4, 2001, Canadian Border Service officers working at Toronto’s international airport discovered steroids, syringes, and clenbuterol in an unmarked duffel bag during an airport search of luggage that had been unloaded from the Cleveland Indians flight from Kansas City.266 Ted Walsh, the Indians equipment and clubhouse manager who was present during the search, recognized the bag as one that had been sent down to be included with the luggage by Cleveland outfielder Juan Gonzalez when the Indians left Kansas City. On prior trips, Gonzalez had included bags for members of his entourage with his own bags, and Walsh had the impression that this was the case with some of the bags he sent down to be packed for the Toronto flight.

The customs officials requested Walsh to bring all of the luggage except the bag in question to the team hotel as normal, which he did. The Indians resident security agent, Jim Davidson, who was traveling with the team because of heightened security after the attacks of September 11, 2001, met with local law enforcement officers in the hotel lobby. Mark Haynes, the Canadian Border Service officer in charge of the investigation, told Davidson that syringes and anabolic steroids had been found in the bag and that officers were going to replace the bag with the Indians luggage to see who claimed it. Haynes also opened the bag and showed Davidson the hypodermic needles, ampules, and other paraphernalia.

Thereafter, Davidson, Haynes, and other officials watched the luggage as Joshue Perez, a member of Juan Gonzalez’s entourage, claimed the duffel bag. With Davidson present, Haynes and other officers took Perez to an anteroom, where he told them that the bag belonged to Angel (“Nao”) Presinal, Gonzalez’s personal trainer, who would be arriving in Toronto on a later flight.

As soon as he arrived at the hotel, Presinal was detained by law enforcement officers. In an interview at the hotel, Presinal denied that the bag belonged to him and asserted that it belonged to, and had been packed by, Gonzalez. Haynes and Toronto police officers then went to Gonzalez’s room to question him about the bag. Although he had been present for the interview of Presinal, Davidson was not invited to attend the interview of Gonzalez. After that interview, Haynes reported that Gonzalez had denied any knowledge about the bag’s contents and claimed that he had sent it down to be included with the team’s luggage at Presinal’s request.

According to Davidson’s account of the incident, during further questioning Presinal admitted that he had packed the steroids but claimed that he carried them for Gonzalez, whom he helped to administer them. Davidson reported that Presinal also claimed to have assisted several other high-profile major league players in taking steroids. In our interview of him in 2007, Presinal denied that he made any such statements. He asserted that he has no knowledge of the involvement of any player in Major League Baseball with anabolic steroids or other performance enhancing substances.

The next day, Davidson and Toronto’s resident security agent Wayne Cotgreave had a conference call with Kevin Hallinan of the Commissioner’s Office’s security department and members of his staff. Hallinan said that the matter would be handled from the Commissioner’s Office in New York. Although Hallinan told Davidson that his office would investigate the matter, there is no evidence that such an investigation ever was conducted beyond a search for Presinal’s Cleveland address. None of the eyewitnesses whom we interviewed during the course of our investigation was contacted by anyone about the incident until a news report about it appeared in July 2006. Davidson was never asked to perform any follow-up work with respect to the matter.

Rob Manfred told us that he did not believe a strong case could be made for “reasonable cause” testing of Gonzalez because of conflicting statements by Presinal, Gonzalez, and others about who the bag and steroids belonged to. Manfred nevertheless contacted Gene Orza of the Players Association about testing Gonzalez, but Orza refused to agree in this instance. Manfred did not ask Orza for the Players Association’s permission to interview Gonzalez because he thought such an interview would be fruitless even if the Players Association agreed to it.

According to the July 2006 article, Presinal was “declared a pariah” by the Commissioner’s Office after the events in Toronto in 2001, an assertion that Hallinan repeated in our interview of him. By early in the 2002 season, however, Presinal was observed in and around the clubhouse of the Texas Rangers (where Juan Gonzalez was playing at the time). Sign-in records indicate that Presinal was in the Rangers clubhouse frequently that season. The Rangers also reserved (but did not pay for) rooms for Presinal at the club’s hotels that season. The Rangers’ general manager, John Hart, was aware of the October 2001 incident and Presinal’s alleged role in it, since Hart joined the Rangers from the Indians after the 2001 season and supported the Rangers’ decision to sign Gonzalez in 2002. In the summer of 2005, Presinal was profiled by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times for his in-season training of Bartolo Colon of the Los Angeles Angels.

After Presinal was spotted in the Rangers clubhouse in 2002, Major League Baseball’s security department alerted all clubs and removed Presinal from the Texas ballpark; he also was removed from the ballpark in Anaheim when he later was spotted there. Presinal remains a prominent personal trainer for a number of professional baseball players, operating out of facilities in the Dominican Republic. He also has worked with players during the season in the United States. He was selected by the Dominican Baseball Federation to serve as a trainer for the Dominican Republic national team during the inaugural World Baseball Classic in spring 2006, which included on its roster a number of players and coaches from Major League Baseball.

That oughta cover it. For now. --Robert Wilonsky


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