A relief pitcher for the Brooklyn Cyclones —once one of the team’s public faces — has been suspended for 50 games for steroid use.
Righty Tim Haines tested positive for a banned “performance enhancing substance” — a term used by Major League Baseball to describe steroids — according to a statement put out by MLB.
A MLB spokesman would not say when Haines tested positive, what specific steroid he tested positive for, or even where he was tested — but sources said Haines, the pride of Mission, Texas, would have been tested shortly after joining the Cyclones on June 16, straight from University of Texas Pan American and just before the June 20 opening day.
Neither the Cyclones nor the Mets would comment about Haines suspension — which will keep him out of baseball until the first week of June, 2007.
Cyclones players were told not to talk to the media about their fallen comrade — but the team’s manager, George Greer, said the ban was instituted only “because no one knows anything.”
“We don’t know why this happened,” Greer told The Brooklyn Papers. “He wasn’t the first [to violate MLB’s drug policy] and sadly he won’t be the last.”
Haines could not be reached for comment, but it’s not a stretch to suspect that he felt unexpected pressures since becoming a pro ballplayer, which he described as his lifelong dream.
“This is something I’ve been preparing for my whole life,” he said after signing with the Mets in June. “I’ve always wanted to make my living as a professional athlete, and now baseball has become a job for me.”
Greer said he had no indication that Haines was feeling excess pressure of finally living his dream.
“I don’t think it was that,” Greer said. “I just think it’s like cigarettes. You see people smoking them and you think, ‘I’d like to try that.’ Of course, not everyone does, but some do.”
Haines, who was chosen by the Mets in the 27th round of the amateur draft, set the UTPA record for saves (10) this season. He also struck out 52 batters in 35 innings of work. Opponents hit just .184 against him.
A year earlier for the UTPA Broncos, he notched 37 Ks, while walking only 15, in just over 32 innings.
He continued showing promise in Brooklyn. In 10 appearances for the Cyclones, he had three saves, a 2–0 record and a 3.09 ERA.
He was so popular that the Cyclones used him as a model, sending out a picture of Haines eating Chef One dumplings after the team inked a deal with the Brooklyn-based won ton maker.
Haine’s UTPA coach, Willie Gawlik, could not believe that Haines had tested positive for steroids.
“He was such a hard worker who always did what he was supposed to do,” Gawlik told The Brooklyn Papers. “I’m completely surprised. It never even crossed my mind that he would do that.”
Gawlik said his players are tested for steroids regularly. Therefore, Haines most likely had not developed a taste for the juice during his college days — or he was using something that his college didn’t test for.
Haines becomes the third Cyclone to test positive for steroids. Last year, pitcher Jorge Reyes earned a 50-game suspension, and rejoined the team this season. Another 2005 Cyclone, Waner Mateo, tested positive in April.
Mets star third-baseman David Wright, the team’s players’ union rep, had little sympathy for those who think they can inject a little strength into their game.
“These are grown men,” Wright said last week. “If they are old enough to receive paychecks and old enough to pay taxes, they are old enough to learn and understand the [league] drug policy.
“We want to rid the game of steroids. If there are players who take steroids, I hope they are caught and punished.”
June 29, 2006 issue