Via BostonDirtDogs.com comes former Boston infielder Lou Merloni, claiming on Saturday that the Sox were given steroids training:
"I'm in spring training, and I got an 8:30-9:00 meeting in the morning. I walk into that office, and this happened while I was with the Boston Red Sox before this last regime, I'm sitting in the meeting. There's a doctor up there and he's talking about steroids, and everyone was like 'here we go, we're gonna sit here and get the whole thing -- they're bad for you.' No. He spins it and says 'you know what, if you take steroids and sit on the couch all winter long, you can actually get stronger than someone who works out clean, if you're going to take steroids, one cycle won't hurt you, abusing steroids it will.' He sat there for one hour and told us how to properly use steroids while I'm with the Boston Red Sox, sitting there with the rest of the organization, and after this I said 'what the heck was that?' And everybody on the team was like 'what was that?' And the response we got was 'well, we know guys are taking it, so we want to make sure they're taking it the right way'... Where did that come from? That didn't come from the Players Association."
Merloni has backtracked a bit since Saturday, saying that it was couched more in terms of a warning than anything else, though he says the conversation still happened. Dan Duquette, however, says that's ridiculous:
"It's ridiculous. It's totally unfounded," said Duquette, who was GM from 1994-2002, covering virtually all of Merloni's tenure (1998-2003). "Who was the doctor? Tell me who the doctor is. If there was such a doctor, he wasn't in the employ of the Red Sox. We brought in doctors to educate the players on the major league drug policy at the time, at the recommendation of Major League Baseball. This is so ridiculous I hate to even respond to it."
My first thought is that Lou Merloni has little incentive to make something like this up while Dan Duquette -- and anyone else in a position of power during the height of the steroids days -- has a lot of incentive to call it a lie. That said, I'd be shocked if whatever happened was as obvious as Merloni says it was. No one is that dumb. Not even Dan Duquette.
But even if this thing isn't as big a deal as Merloni makes it out to be, there's no escaping the notion that management knew more about the pervasiveness of steroids during the bad old days than is currently being reported and largely turned a blind eye towards it. Or, as explained in the Mitchell Report and elsewhere, actually exploited it by valuing or devaluing players in part based upon their perception as steroid users.
In the rush to burn the Manny Ramirezes and Alex Rodriguezes at the stake, let us not forget that far more people benefited from player's steroid use than just the players themselves.