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Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Updated: June 9, 12:49 PM ET
Report: Feds wanted Grimsley to help implicate Bonds

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PHOENIX -- An attorney for released Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Jason Grimsley said Wednesday that federal agents tried to pressure the player into wearing a listening device in an effort to collect incriminating evidence against San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, The Arizona Republic reported.

"It was a specific effort to target Bonds," attorney Edward F. Novak told the newspaper. "We were told that Jason's cooperation was necessary to their case."

Novak also told the newspaper that Grimsley denied volunteering names of fellow players, as reported in court documents released Tuesday. Instead, federal agents asked Grimsley what he knew about the illegal drug habits of specific athletes, such as former Mets and Phillies outfielder Lenny Dykstra.

Novak said Grimsley subsequently "was outed by the feds" because he didn't cooperate, the Republic reported.

Alleged Latin connection

MIAMI -- Almost as surprising as Jason Grimsley's admission of banned substance abuse was the Diamondbacks' pitcher's assertion that "Latin players" were a major source of amphetamines.

Diamondbacks right-hander Miguel Batista told ESPNdeportes.com: "I'm really surprised by all of this, I still don't understand what's going on, much less the notion that Latin players are responsible for bringing amphetamines into baseball clubhouses."

The Diamondbacks released Grimsley on Wednesday, one day after his home was searched by federal agents as part of an investigation into steroid use by athletes.

"I didn't know Grimsley all that well, but he seemed like a great guy," said Batista. "We still need more time to assimilate what's happening. Maybe when we see that complete documents of what Grimsley said we'll have a better idea."

-- Enrique Rojas, ESPNdeportes.com

"They asked him specifically about Barry Bonds, and Jason said he didn't know Bonds well and didn't know if he did or didn't use drugs," Novak told the paper.

Novak did not immediately return after-hours calls left Thursday at his office by The Associated Press.

Investigators then asked Grimsley whether he knew any of Bonds' teammates who might confide in Grimsley about the slugger's alleged use of performance enhancements, Novak said. Grimsley refused, telling investigators that "baseball players don't go around talking about who is using and who isn't," Novak added.

While Grimsley's lawyer said the right-hander disputes much of what was in the affidavit released Tuesday, he did not deny past use of performance-enhancing drugs. "He has admitted his past steroid use," Novak said.

But he apparently named members of the 2005 Orioles as amphetamine users in his interview with an IRS agent, The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday.

The Diamondbacks released Grimsley earlier Wednesday, one day after his home was searched by federal agents as part of an investigation into steroid use by athletes.

The raid -- and Grimsley's implication of other major league ballplayers -- was the latest sign that widespread investigations into drug use by athletes are still active, even in the era of tougher testing.

"Clearly," U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan said, "we're not done."

Grimsley's agent Joe Bick told The Associated Press he thought this would mark the end of the 38-year-old reliever's career.

"My guess is Jason's done playing," Bick said in a telephone interview. "I couldn't anticipate that he would play again, but that's his call.

"He didn't want to be a distraction to the team," he said.

"I am deeply saddened whenever there is an allegation that a Major League Baseball player is involved in the use of performance-enhancing substances," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, I will not make any comment about this specific case. As a general matter, however, I urge everyone associated with Major League Baseball -- from the players to the union to the owners -- to cooperate with the ongoing investigations by the federal government and by former Sen. George Mitchell."

Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes said that Grimsley had requested his unconditional release in meetings with team officials Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We accepted his request," Byrnes said.

As for the remainder of Grimsley's $825,000 salary, "there was no negotiation," Bick said. "Released players get paid."

Diamondbacks pitcher Terry Mulholland said Grimsley addressed his teammates after the loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday.

"He expressed to us that he had too much respect for us to allow this to bring us down," Mulholland said. "He's that kind of guy."

Grimsley's locker in the calm clubhouse was empty when the room was opened to the media Wednesday before a game with the Phillies.

Thirteen federal agents had searched Grimsley's house in Scottsdale, Ariz., for six hours Tuesday, according to Internal Revenue Service agent Mark Lessler, who would not say what they found.

Investigators who cracked the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operativesteroid scandal in San Francisco said Grimsley initially cooperated in the probe but withdrew his assistance in April, prompting the search.

Authorities tracked a package containing two "kits" of human growth hormone -- about a season's supply -- that was delivered at Grimsley's house on April 19, court documents released Tuesday showed.

Moments later, agents armed with a warrant offered him an option: Cooperate with their investigation into athletes using performance-enhancing drugs or submit to an immediate search. Grimsley agreed to be interviewed.

An affadavit in support of that raid said agents had tracked a package containing human growth hormone to Grimsley's house April 19 and confronted him at his door. Novak said agents coerced Grimsley into cooperating to avoid being embarrassed in front of friends and family members at the home.

"They specifically told him, 'Don't call a lawyer,'" Novak said. "They let him know that if he didn't cooperate, they basically would terrorize his family and come in with guns drawn and lights flashing."

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California said in a statement Wednesday that the search was "conducted in an entirely appropriate and legal fashion."

Grimsley told investigators he paid for a shipment of HGH while with the Orioles and said he had purchased the substance 10 to 12 times over several years, The Sun reported.

He proceeded to detail his "receipt and use of anabolic steroids, amphetamines and human growth hormone over the last several years" but said he went exclusively with HGH when baseball's testing program began.

Baseball doesn't test for HGH, and MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred said HGH "is a problem for all sports because there is no universally accepted and validated test."

"No governing body in any sport has ever been able to discipline an athlete for the use of HGH," he said.

Grimsley also identified several other players who he said had used or supplied the drugs, though their names were blacked out from court documents. They included a handful of former teammates and one player he identified as one of his "better friends in baseball," adding that it was common knowledge that "Latin players" were a major source for amphetamines; the Arizona Republic reported that major leaguers on California teams who could easily travel to Mexico to buy the drugs were also a source.

He also identified a personal fitness trainer to several major league ballplayers who once referred him to someone that later supplied him with an array of drugs.

"I have no comment about that and no idea about that," Grimsley told The Arizona Republic on Tuesday, hours before the Diamondbacks played the Phillies.

After Arizona's 10-1 loss, manager Bob Melvin said news of the investigation might have affected the team. Grimsley spent the game in the bullpen and warmed up at one point.

Grimsley began his big-league career with Philadelphia in 1989 and has pitched for Cleveland, California, the New York Yankees, Kansas City, Baltimore and Arizona. He has a career record of 42-58 with a 4.77 ERA.

According to court documents, Grimsley failed a league drug test in 2003. Grimsley claims in the affidavit that then-GM Allard Baird told him of the flunked test.

"That simply isn't true," Baird told ESPN. "The tests were anonymous, and none of us knew who tested positive. We had no information on the tests."

Authorities said when Grimsley was cooperating, he admitted to using human growth hormone, amphetamines and steroids.

He added that amphetamine use was prevalent in pro baseball and that it was placed in coffee in clubhouses -- marked "leaded" or "unleaded" to indicate which pots contained the drugs -- IRS agent Jeff Novitsky wrote.

The investigation is being run by prosecutors and authorities in San Francisco, where five BALCO defendants pleaded guilty to distributing or developing steroids. Ryan said the government probe will "diligently follow the evidence."

A federal grand jury in San Francisco is also investigating whether Bonds lied under oath about using the performance-enhancing drug known as "the clear" during his grand jury testimony that led to the indictment of four people connected to BALCO.

The issue of athletes and drugs has been a constant topic in sports, heightened when Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa testified before Congress last year and further fueled by the Grimsley developments.

"It can't be more of a distraction than it already is," New York Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina said. "Every time Barry Bonds comes up to the plate, they're talking about it. How much longer can you keep talking about the same subject?"

Word of the Grimsley investigation comes nearly two months after an Illinois-based scientist prominent in the field of sports nutritional supplements pleaded guilty to supplying the BALCO lab with the performance-enhancing drug known as "the clear."

Patrick Arnold pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute steroids to BALCO, a steroid ring that San Francisco investigators broke up two years ago. Those same authorities are targeting Grimsley.

Arnold is scheduled to be sentenced in August and will most likely face three months in jail and three months of home detention.

A separate federal grand jury is probing who leaked Bonds' testimony from the BALCO investigation to the San Francisco Chronicle.

So far, the BALCO probe has netted guilty pleas from Arnold, BALCO president Victor Conte, Bonds' trainer Greg Anderson, BALCO vice president James Valente and track coach Remi Korchemny.

Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick told reporters in the dugout before the game Wednesday that the players' association and management need to get together on even tougher drug testing.

"We just hope the union will look at it as we do," Kendrick said. "We've got to do the very best that is possible to rid ourselves of any and all drugs in our game."

Former Kansas City teammate Jeremy Affeldt said he talked to Grimsley earlier Wednesday.

"He's down. It's an embarrassing thing when you get caught. It was a judgment call on his part. I think he knows it was wrong. I don't think he would deny that," Affeldt said.

Grimsley previously made headlines in 1999 when he confessed to his role in the Albert Belle corked bat caper.

Grimsley, who had been Belle's teammate with Cleveland, admitted he worked his way through a crawl space at Comiskey Park in 1994 and dropped through the ceiling in the umpires' room to replace the illegal bat.

"I went sky diving once, and I can compare it to that," Grimsley said at the time. "The adrenaline rush I got from that caper was just like jumping out of an airplane. It was being in a place you're not supposed to be."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.