Autopsy Set for Orioles Pitcher Bechler
By STEVEN WINE
.c The Associated Press
02/18/03 12:11 EST
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - A
medical examiner will sort out the circumstances that caused the death of
Steve Bechler, a newlywed, expectant father and pitching prospect for the
Bechler died of heatstroke Monday,
less than 24 hours after a spring training workout that sent his
temperature to 108 degrees.
He was an overweight athlete
pushing himself in warm, humid weather much different from the climate in
his native Oregon. And he may have been taking a dietary supplement that
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.
Regarding the bottle, Perper said:
``My understanding is it exists, but we don't have it.''
Perper said his office planned to
begin an autopsy Tuesday, and that it could be two or three weeks before
the final results are known.
A workout Sunday left Bechler pale
and dizzy. When his condition deteriorated, 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
The 23-year-old pitcher died of
``multiorgan failure due to heatstroke,'' said William Goldiner, the
Orioles' team physician.
``He would rebound at times,''
Goldiner said. ``They thought they were getting ahead of it, and then
another organ system would fail.''
Bechler's wife, Kiley, due to
deliver their first child in April, was at his bedside. They married last
The center-field flag at Fort
Lauderdale Stadium was at half-staff when the mourning Orioles resumed
At 6-foot-2 and 239 pounds, Bechler
had battled weight for much of his five-year professional career. Asked
about the pitcher's conditioning, manager Mike Hargrove was quoted as
saying it was ``not good.''
Goldiner said he wasn't aware of
any evidence that Bechler had been taking a dietary supplement such as
ephedrine, which has been banned by the NCAA and NFL but not by major
league baseball. The Orioles' policy is to discourage the use of the
amphetaminelike stimulant, he said.
``Weight-loss drugs are never
prescribed by us,'' Goldiner said. ``They're never condoned by
Orioles spokesman Bill Stetka said
he could neither confirm nor deny a report by The Washington Times that a
bottle of a supplement containing ephedrine was found in Bechler's
``We'll cooperate in every way with
the medical examiner's office,'' Stetka said. ``Everything we find we'll
turn over and apprise them of.''
Said baseball spokesman Rich Levin:
``We're going to wait to find out more about what happened.''
Funeral arrangements were
A native of Medford, Ore., Bechler
was a third-round draft pick by the Orioles in 1998. He made his major
league debut last September, going 0-0 with a 13.50 ERA in three relief
appearances. He was expected to begin this season with the club's new
Triple-A affiliate in Ottawa.
Bechler spent most of last year at
Triple-A Rochester, going 6-11 with a 4.09 ERA in 24 starts.
``He was one of my favorite players
that I had ever been around,'' said Joe Castellano, a radio play-by-play
broadcaster for Rochester. ``He had a great personality. He was everything
that was good about baseball.''
Bechler's wife was driving from
Oregon to Florida when she was reached by cell phone with the news her
husband had been taken to the hospital. She took a flight from Salt Lake
City on Sunday and arrived in Fort Lauderdale shortly before
Bechler's parents learned of his
death when they arrived Monday in Miami, Orioles executive vice president
Jim Beattie said. They had traveled from their Oregon home after Bechler
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.
``Everybody was in shock,'' pitcher
Rodrigo Lopez said.
Bechler fell down while running
drills Sunday and Hargrove said he could tell Bechler wasn't feeling
``He was about 60 percent of the
way through it when we noticed that he was a little white-faced,''
Hargrove said. ``He was leaning against a fence ... which isn't unusual
when guys get tired. We put him on a cart and brought him in and called