Orioles pitching prospect dies from heatstroke

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 18, 2003

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect Steve Bechler died of heatstroke Monday, unable to recover from a spring training workout a day earlier that sent his temperature to 108 degrees.

An autopsy will help determine whether Bechler had been taking the dietary supplement ephedrine, which has been linked to heatstroke and heart attacks.

Broward County medical examiner Dr. Joshua Perper acknowledged a published report that a bottle of a supplement containing ephedrine was found in Bechler's locker.

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Regarding the bottle, Perper said: ''My understanding is it exists, but we don't have it.''

A workout Sunday left Bechler pale and dizzy, and when his condition worsened, he was carried from the clubhouse to an ambulance on a stretcher. He spent the night in intensive care and died at 10:10 a.m. Monday at Northridge Medical Center.

His wife, Kiley, due to deliver the couple's first child in April, was at his bedside. She and Bechler, 23, married last year.

William Goldiner, the Orioles' team physician, said Bechler died of ''multi-organ failure due to heatstroke.''

Bechler, at 6-foot-2 and 239 pounds, had battled weight trouble in the past. Asked about the pitcher's conditioning, manager Mike Hargrove was quoted as saying it was ''not good.''

Bechler made his major league debut last September, going 0-0 with a 13.50 ERA in three relief appearances for the Orioles. The right-hander was expected to begin this season with the club's new Triple-A affiliate in Ottawa.

He spent most of last season at Triple-A Rochester, going 6-11 with a 4.09 ERA in 24 starts. He had a 35-48 record in five minor-league seasons.

Perper said his medical examiner's office would begin an autopsy Tuesday, and that it could be two or three weeks before the final results are known.

Said baseball spokesman Rich Levin: ''We're going to wait to find out more about what happened.''

Orioles players were briefed about Bechler's condition during a clubhouse meeting before Monday's workout. They were summoned inside a short while later and told of his death, and the rest of the day's training schedule was called off.



TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Derek Jeter wanted to say it loud and clear: He is not a party animal.

Just two hours after officially reporting for spring training, the New York Yankees' star shortstop planted himself in the dugout at Legends Field, and said he wanted to put owner George Steinbrenner's comments behind.

The five-time All-Star said he was irritated not at Steinbrenner for questioning his focus in public, but with the New York Daily News for running a ''PARTY ON'' backpage headline that portrayed him as a king of the night rather than prince of the Bronx.

''The No. 1 concern I had is I didn't want Yankee fans to be thinking that I could care less whether we win or lose,'' he said. ''The way it was painted was that I've lost focus and I'm going to continue to indulge in New York City nightlife and things like that, so that's when I felt the need to say something.''