Sun archives: Ex-Oriole Segui admits to hGH use (June 19, 2006)

Former Orioles first baseman David Segui told ESPN yesterday that he is one of the players named in Jason Grimsley's affidavit on drug use in baseball and that he used human growth hormone obtained through a doctor's prescription.

Segui, the first player in the affidavit to be identified, was a 15-year major league veteran who finished his career with the Orioles in 2004. He is the third former Oriole along with Grimsley and Rafael Palmeiro to be connected to baseball's battle against the use of performance enhancers.Segui emphasized that he obtained hGH legally from a doctor in Florida. He said he still takes it because he has a natural deficiency of the hormone. He said that when he saw the section of Grimsley's affidavit pertaining to him, he knew he had been implicated, though his name was blacked out.

"It was almost word for word the conversation we had, except there's a couple key words that were left out," Segui told ESPN. "You know, `legal' was one of the major - probably the most major omission in the affidavit. ... I was under doctor's prescription, under doctor's supervision."

Segui said he advised Grimsley, who told Internal Revenue Service investigators this spring that he purchased hGH between 10 and 12 times in the past several years, on the use of the hormone.

"Jason was coming back from Tommy John surgery," he said, referring to an elbow ligament reconstruction procedure. "He expressed, you know, a desire to use, to try human growth hormone to heal his elbow, to get him back on the field. ... I told him, he knew that I was on it legally. I told him, I was speaking as a friend, if you're going to do this, go to the doctor, get your levels checked to see where they're at. ... Do it under the doctor's supervision. And my exact words to him were, `If you're going to do it, do it the right way.'"

Attempts by The Sun to reach Segui during the past week were unsuccessful.

Orioles players and officials said they didn't know of Segui's hGH use and that they're tired of hearing drug-related questions.

"David Segui don't play for this team, so it shouldn't affect us," said Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo.

"It's part of the territory," he said. "It's not a reflection on the organization. I think that's where people get caught up, in the fact that they think the organization was a part of this deal. All these things you see, for me, are strictly personal decisions that people make."

Former teammates agreed that Segui's revelation shouldn't reflect poorly on the current Orioles.

"We had to deal with the Palmeiro situation last year. I think that really affected us," said pitcher Rodrigo Lopez, who played with Segui for three seasons. "And today, well this year, again the things come back. But it's not the same situation. Those guys are not on the team."

Second baseman Brian Roberts lived with Segui when Roberts was breaking in with the Orioles. "I don't really know much about it," he said. "I just saw the [TV] clip. I love Segui. He was great to me, but I don't know that much about the situation."

Segui batted .291 in an injury-marred career that included two stints with the Orioles. He began his career in Baltimore in 1990 but left for the New York Mets in 1994 and played for five other teams before returning to the Orioles in 2001. Segui signed a four-year, $28 million deal but averaged only 48 games a season before finishing his career in 2004.

His best season came in 2000, when he hit .334 with 19 homers and 103 RBIs for the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians.

Federal investigators tracked two packages of hGH to Grimsley's house on April 19. The Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher granted a long interview that day on his history of using performance enhancers. He tied at least a dozen former teammates and acquaintances to hGH, steroids and amphetamines. But the names of those players were blacked out in the publicly released version of the affidavit. Several are believed to be current or former Orioles because Grimsley described teammates talking about amphetamine use last season.

Grimsley subsequently declined to help investigators further.

Segui showed ESPN a prescription for hGH from 2003, when he played for the Orioles. HGH was not specifically banned by Major League Baseball during Segui's career, but it has been since. Even now, players aren't tested for the hormone, because baseball officials don't regard existing tests as reliable.

Segui told ESPN that growth hormone, which can increase bone and muscle mass, didn't help him as a player.

Dr. Gary Wadler, an associate professor at New York University School of Medicine and a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency, said it wasn't immediately clear whether Segui's hGH use was legal. The Food and Drug Administration allows the hormone to be prescribed for rare conditions such as child dwarfism and pituitary disorders and for patients with AIDS or cancer.

In most adult cases, hGH deficiency would be caused by either a tumor or some other malfunction of the pituitary gland or by the treatment (such as radiation) of a malfunctioning pituitary gland, Wadler said.

"It is not common; it is rare," Wadler said. "But it is real."

He would not speak specifically on the validity of Segui's case, but said: "You wouldn't expect it in an athlete because elite athletes cannot perform at an elite level if they have hGH deficiency or at least you wouldn't expect that they could. ... Having said all of that, he may have had a head injury or a pituitary tumor and didn't tell anybody about it. We don't know."

Wadler added, however, that doctors normally would not test for a hGH deficiency and then offer treatment. Instead, there should be an investigation into what is causing the deficiency including evaluating the patient's history and physical exams that could include magnetic resonance imaging tests before making a diagnosis.

"It's not just a matter of treatment. You need to know what caused it," Wadler said. "It's not just a matter of, `It happened.'"

Orioles strength and conditioning coach Tim Bishop said Segui never told him he was taking hGH.

"Obviously, there are people in this world who are deficient of growth hormone, but I certainly don't know David Segui's personal health history," Bishop said.

He added that Segui had every right to keep private his dealings with a personal physician.

"He was a great worker," Bishop said of Segui. "He trained almost every day and was very in tune with his body. Just a great athlete who trained very hard, took it very seriously."

Lopez said he had never heard fellow players talk of using hGH legally or illegally.

"I don't know how they get it, how they use it," he said. "To me, it's something I'm not very familiar with. I don't know how they get it. I've read a little bit, but besides that, I never heard anybody in the clubhouse talk about using it."

Sun reporters Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly contributed to this article.