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Series chatter

Closing in on Mitchell report

PAUL BYRD Insists he did nothing wrong PAUL BYRD Insists he did nothing wrong (JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF)
By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / October 26, 2007

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Commissioner Bud Selig remained mum yesterday on the steroid investigation, but there's growing sentiment that suspensions for players found to have used performance-enhancing drugs could be forthcoming.

One major league official, who wished not to be identified, rolled his eyes but nodded in the affirmative concerning a Los Angeles Times article that indicated punishments could be doled out soon. Before last Sunday's Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, Indians righthander Paul Byrd was named by the San Francisco Chronicle as having purchased $25,000 worth of human growth hormone from a Florida anti-aging clinic that had been under investigation for issuing fraudulent prescriptions.

There were a trail of bills leading to Byrd, who purchased HGH from 2002-05, because, he said, of a pituitary gland tumor that had diminished his hormone levels. Neither the Indians nor Major League Baseball backed Byrd's contention that many were aware of his medical issue. Byrd has stated he's done nothing wrong.

Last year, MLB hired former Senator George Mitchell to conduct an investigation of the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the game, and it appears Mitchell might be within a month or two of revealing his findings. HGH was not considered a banned substance by Major League Baseball until January 2005. What MLB must do is determine how to handle punishments for those players who were found to have used the drugs before the policies were in place. Any punishment will certainly be challenged by the Major League Baseball Players Association, which has remained quiet on the topic but according to one major league official, "They're laying in the weeds and ready to challenge everything that comes along."

Will they wait?

The Yankees will have to receive permission from Selig if they wish to name a new manager before the World Series is over. Teams traditionally are asked to refrain from announcing major news until after the Series. Given the fact the Red Sox, the Yankees' archrivals, are involved, it would be interesting to see whether Selig would allow the Yankees to possibly upstage the Series. Yankee officials indicated yesterday they're in no hurry.

There has been a bit of sparring between the Yankees and Red Sox the past couple of days. Hank Steinbrenner was asked about the popularity of Red Sox Nation and said, "The Red Sox can have their Nation, the Yankees have the universe."

Sox owner John Henry, when told of Steinbrenner's comments, said, "As far as I'm concerned, they can have Mars and Pluto. We'll take Red Sox Nation."

Don Mattingly remains the favorite to replace Joe Torre in New York, though Joe Girardi (who is also being considered by the Dodgers, according to ESPN) was very impressive in his interview. Tony Peña, who also interviewed, would likely be named bench coach if Mattingly gets the job.

One of Mattingly's former teammates, Rockies broadcaster George Frazier, feels Mattingly should get the job.

"Just as I'm surprised Joe Torre is no longer managing the ball club, I'd be surprised if Don Mattingly doesn't get the job," said Frazier. "They say that Donny deserves it, so give it to him."

Frazier, who once roomed with Mattingly, was asked whether Mattingly ever expressed a desire to manage. "Donny's a pretty simple guy," said Frazier. "He still lives in the same house he's always lived in. He's not looking for money, he's looking for rings. I think the players and the management really respect him. If they don't, they should. He's been sitting right next to Joe for a long time, so he's learned a lot from being around the best."

They'll have to wait

It is unusual to see Dusty Baker completing his work as an ESPN analyst for the Series rather than devoting his time to the Cincinnati Reds, who hired him as their manager earlier this month. "I like to finish what I start," said Baker. "I made a commitment to ESPN and they were gracious enough to let me work for them. I've been working hard trying to get to know the Reds organization in the meantime." Baker said one of the people he sought out for advice when considering taking the Reds job was Red Sox special adviser Jeremy Kapstein. "He's a special person, a tremendous baseball man, and a friend," said Baker. "His message to me was very simple. He told me to do what would make me happy. That's the most important thing and I went with my heart and did what I felt I had to do to make me happy." . . . The Dodgers are trying to schedule the Red Sox for the final two exhibition games at Dodger Stadium next spring. The Sox still haven't received word whether they'll be opening the regular season in Japan. If they do, it might make sense for the Sox to make a stop in LA, play a couple of exhibitions against Boston native Frank McCourt's Dodgers, then continue west . . . Former Sox reliever Jeff Reardon, who has had a tough go of it the past few years, including the death of his son, was released from court supervision yesterday, a year after being found not guilty by reason of insanity of robbing a jewelry store. "I'm glad to have it behind me and just try to get on with my life," Reardon told the Associated Press. "I'm doing much better." The 52-year-old Reardon, who was suffering from depression over the 2004 drug-overdose death of his 20-year-old son, Shane, walked into Hamilton Jewelers in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in December 2005 and handed an employee a note saying he had a gun and the store was being robbed. He fled with about $170. It was determined later that Reardon did not have a gun.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com.

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