Steroids posed wrenching decisions for some players
Baseball players' depositions provide insight into the nature of the sport's drug culture.
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But he couldn't do it. Drugs seemed a way out. "Being weak, and I was trying to hold on to my career, you know, I made the unfortunate decision to try it," said Knoblauch.Skip to next paragraph
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At that time, he obtained HGH from McNamee. A year later, he was still struggling. He had been traded to Kansas City. His father had passed away. He got HGH on his own from a fellow player and injected himself.
He never regained his throwing ability. Today he is retired. "I am not friends with any major-league players, really," he said. "I might have one from my 12-year career."
Christopher John "C.J." Nitkowski never took HGH or steroids. But he thought about it. A former Texas Ranger who sometimes trained in the offseason with Clemens, Pettitte, and McNamee, he remembers asking McNamee if drugs might help him.
Where Clemens was a superstar, and Pettitte a star, Nitkowski was a journeyman pitcher looking for another three to five miles per hour for his fastball.
"I mean, if [McNamee] would have told me yes‚ I would have done it.... I was at that point in my career," said Nitkowski.
But McNamee dispassionately laid out the benefits and costs of the steroid commonly known as Winstrol. Nitkowski decided it was not for him.
At the time it did not seem an important moral choice. Later, said Nitkowski, he saw that it had been exactly that.
He says it was a difficult era.
"People were forced to make the [drug or no drug] decision ... because they knew other guys were taking it, and there were guys that were passing them by, and they were trying to keep jobs and figuring out what to do," said Nitkowski.
A left-handed relief pitcher, Nitkowski has been playing in Japan. Today he maintains a sense of humor about having bounced around. At one point in the deposition, a House lawyer listed the teams he played for as the Reds, Tigers, Astros, Mets, Rangers, Yankees, Braves, and Nationals. "I think you missed a couple," said Nitkowski, who in fact played for 11 different major-league organizations.
In his deposition, by contrast, Pettitte displayed no humor. But he seemed as clear in what he wanted to say as any of the dozen figures deposed by the House panel.
"I was desperate," he said.
McNamee had already warned him not to go down the drug route. That is Pettitte's recounting of the situation, anyway.
"He told me that he knows what kind of person I am ... and that he did not feel I would be comfortable doing it once I did it," said Pettitte, who went on to refer to his Christian faith.
Pettitte says he never saw any player take steroids.
"Outsiders hear about all the steroids in baseball so they sort of jump to the conclusion, now everyone's got steroids in the locker room ... and what I'm trying to say is, if anyone was doing it, they were doing it in private," he said.