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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Report: Indians' Byrd bought HGH, syringes from Florida clinic

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
October 21, 2007

BOSTON (AP) -- Cleveland pitcher Paul Byrd, whose win in Game 4 of the ALCS moved the Indians within one victory of the World Series, bought nearly $25,000 worth of human growth hormone and syringes from 2002 to 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday.

Byrd, known for his old-school windup and savvy on the mound, purchased the HGH from a Palm Beach, Fla., anti-aging clinic under investigation by authorities for possible illegal distribution of performance-enhancing drugs, the paper said.

The allegations against Byrd came as the Indians prepared to play the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the AL championship series at Fenway Park on Sunday night. Cleveland led the series 3-1 after Bryd's Game 4 win but have lost two straight.

Byrd arrived at the ballpark about fours before the start of the game. He walked to Cleveland's clubhouse with teammates David Dellucci and Trot Nixon. Byrd planned to speak to the media before the game.

"I'm going to talk to my team first," he said.

During the time of the alleged purchases, the pitcher was with the Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Angels. HGH was not banned by baseball then and was added to the sport's list of prohibited substances in 2005.

Major League Baseball said it will speak to Byrd before the start of the World Series, if Cleveland advances.

"We will investigate the allegations concerning Paul Byrd as we have players implicated in previous similar reports," the league statement said.

Also accused of buying HGH: Los Angeles Angels outfielder Gary Matthews, St. Louis outfielder Rick Ankiel and Texas Rangers infielder Jerry Hairston Jr.

Byrd, a 36-year-old devout Christian, has publicly denied using steroids in the past.

Indians general manager Mark Shapiro has spoken with Byrd about the matter, adding he didn't have enough information to comment further.

"He has been an important member of this organization -- on and off the field -- over the last two years and we support him in this process," Shapiro said in a statement.

Byrd won Game 4 for the Indians at Jacobs Field on Tuesday. In the AL playoffs, he earned the victory in Cleveland's Game 4 series-clinching win over the New York Yankees.

According to the Chronicle, which reviewed the clinic's business records, Byrd used his credit card and spent $24,850 on more than 1,000 vials of HGH, an injectable prescription drug with muscle-building properties. He also bought hundreds of syringes.
The Chronicle said it reviewed records of shipping orders and payment information on Byrd such as his Social Security number. The records were provided to the paper by an unidentified source.

Based on the paper's review, Byrd had some shipments sent to his home in Alpharetta, Ga., $1,050 worth of syringes and HGH to the Braves' spring training facility in Kissimmee, Fla., and a $2,000 order to the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York, when the Braves were in town to play the Mets.

The Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center, the clinic where Byrd made the alleged purchases, is part of a network of anti-aging clinics and online pharmacies targeted by the Albany, N.Y., district attorney for alleged illegal sales of steroids and growth hormone.

Citing an anonymous law enforcement source, the Chronicle said two of the prescriptions Byrd used to buy the growth hormone were written by a Florida dentist. The dentist's license was suspended in 2003 for fraud and incompetence. Byrd was slowed by an elbow injury in 2003, and records show he made six purchases of HGH.

Byrd went 15-8 with a 4.59 ERA this season, his second with the Indians. He signed him to a two-year, $14 million free agent contract in December 2005, and Cleveland holds a club option on the right-hander for 2008.

After shoulder surgery in 2002, Byrd began toying with a double-pump windup favored by pitchers from decades ago. He found that the arm-swinging motion helped him better hide the ball from hitters, and the windup became his signature.

Byrd, who has a 97-61 career record, relies on location and off-speed pitches to get outs. Following Game 4, Byrd, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, joked about finding some extra speed on his fastball.

"I hit 90 mph," he said, "which happens a few times a year."


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