Insert Finger into Collar, Tug: Curt Schilling Says Members of the Red Sox Organization Encouraged PED Use

nervous cat pedThis could be nothing more than a passing fart in the wind from a guy who loves to talk, but it could also be the beginning of something ugly. Here’s hoping it’s the former.

Former Boston Red Sox pitcher, and avowed non-performance enhancing drug user, Curt Schilling told ESPN radio that, late in his career, he was encouraged to juice by members of the Boston organization.

“At the end of my career, in 2008 when I had gotten hurt, there was a conversation that I was involved in in which it was brought to my attention that [using PEDs] is a potential path I might want to pursue,” Schilling told Colin Cowherd.

Schilling said the conversation occurred in the clubhouse and involved “former members of the organization.”

“They’re no longer there,” he went on. “It was an incredibly uncomfortable conversation. Because it came up in the midst of a group of people. The other people weren’t in the conversation but they could clearly hear the conversation. And it was suggested to me that at my age and in my situation, why not? What did I have to lose? Because if I wasn’t going to get healthy, it didn’t matter. And if I did get healthy, great. It caught me off guard, to say the least. That was an awkward situation.”

Now, then.

“Former” members of the organization could include a long list of folks – players, coaches, training staff … and front office types. Schilling wouldn’t identify what “type” of member of the organization they were, though. Because it was just an off-the-cuff suggestion to Schilling, it wasn’t necessarily coming from a person in a position of authority.

But, at the same time, it’s hard to imagine he was just talking about some random back-up catcher. Instead, it sounds like he’s referring to someone who had at least some say in his training methods, preparation, and status within the organization.

To say plainly what you’re fearing: it is plausible that the person(s) about whom he was speaking were a part of Theo Epstein’s inner circle, including many faces who’ve since joined the Cubs, such as Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod, or Epstein, himself.

Do I think that’s the case? Eh, not really. There’s such a huge swath of a people about whom Schilling could have been speaking – and that’s assuming Schilling isn’t lying or embellishing – that I wouldn’t say I’m concerned that there are implications here for the Cubs’ front office. And do these guys really seem like the types to so wantonly and brazenly discuss/suggest PED use in front of large groups?

I have a feeling Epstein and/or Hoyer will be asked the question, though. And, of course, they’ll deny that they’ve ever supported any such thing, and will say they never had any knowledge of those things going on at the time (we’ve since learned that Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, for example, were connected to PEDs during Epstein’s tenure with the Red Sox). And that might very well be the truth.

Still, it’s an icky situation.

UPDATE: In an interview that just took place this afternoon, Jed Hoyer adamantly denied that he or Theo would have had anything to do with encouraging PED use.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

110 responses to “Insert Finger into Collar, Tug: Curt Schilling Says Members of the Red Sox Organization Encouraged PED Use”

  1. CubFan Paul

    Everyone roided in ’08. The spike in stats prove it. Nothing new Curt…

  2. Jim L.

    Hey Schilling, stuff a bloody sock in it!

  3. Marc N.

    If the organization taught athletes about how to use PEDS rather than just turn a blind eye to them, is that so bad?

    1. Marc N.

      I mean look at the lack of backlash over stem cell usage, which I’m sure is perceived as a far safer route as far as putting…stuff…into the body.

    2. TWC

      Why yes, yes it would be. Especially if it happened in 2008, as suggested, it would show evidence of a far greater conspiracy to circumvent the rules of MLB than has otherwise ever been claimed.

      1. Marc N.

        I meant as far as further ignoring rules that nobody was listening to anyway, obviously.

        1. TWC

          Oh. “Obviously”.

          If this story had purportedly happened in 1998-2002, perhaps. In 2008? That’s a much bigger deal.

          1. Marc N.

            Yep, obviously.

  4. @cubsfantroy

    Schilling just trying to spark more controversy. Awesome.

  5. Van

    Manny Ramirez was still a “member of the organization” in 2008.

  6. Deez

    Wish more Cubs did it, we’d probably have a title by now.
    Actually, the hold Roid talk is nothing new.
    You can’t say that no one knew. I think “Everyone” in Baseball knew, but turned a blinded eye.

  7. North Side Irish

    Obviously I’m biased, but I can’t imagine it was Epstein or Hoyer only because they both seem to sneaky and cautious to bring up this type of conversation in a public area such as the clubhouse. Just doesn’t fit with what we’ve seen of their style. But again, I’m biased and really hoping this doesn’t end up being an issue for the Cubs.

    1. Cubbie Blues

      Hoyer just denied that it was him or Epstein on the Score.

    2. Van

      Yeah, one would think that if either Jed or Theo (or any FO type from any team, for that matter) were interested in having this conversation with a player, it would happen in their office rather than a crowded clubhouse.

    3. OlderStyle

      I believe plausible deniability would apply here. They probably weren’t actively promoting it themselves but were trainers suggesting it and the front office covering ears and eyes?
      “Oh yeah, a buffer. The family had a lot of buffers!”

  8. boomindanny

    kurt schilling should burn in a fire lit with bloody socks and crucifixes. he is the worst.

  9. Jed Hoyer Speaks: Curt Schilling PED Comments, Javier Baez Level, Starlin Castro’s Spot in the Order | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    [...] Curt Schilling’s comments about members in the Red Sox organization suggesting he could try and use PEDs later in his career … any response? The first I’d ever heard of that was this morning, so it didn’t really ring true. It’s “preposterous” that Theo or I would be involved in that or would ever encourage PED use. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know the story he’s talking about. It wasn’t Theo or me. [...]

  10. BluBlud

    Eh. Epstein is no saint. He wants to win just like everybody else. I’m pretty sure he knew Manny and Papi, along with others were juicing. Every GM, Theo included knew. Just because he’s the Cubs President now he should not be considered any different. However, I doubt he would have that conversation himself, even if it was his idea, and if he did, it would definitely be behind close doors.

    1. TWC

      I highly encourage you to read the Mitchell Report in its entirety. It’s fascinating, and contains a lot of sources/documents/emails from MLB front offices about speculation on who was doing what. To just say that “[e]very GM, Theo included knew” is unfair, inaccurate, and a copout.

      1. BluBlud

        TWC, by 2008, we all knew baseball was full of juicers. If any GM didn’t know by then what was going on in their game, they should have been fired. They might not have known all the specifics, but they knew players were doing it. I pretty sure they also had their Ideas of which players were doing it. So why there might not have been proof, there was definitely suspicion.

        1. TWC

          “They might not have known all the specifics, but they … had their Ideas of which players were doing it.”

          This is entirely accurate, as is illustrated the Mitchell Report.

          I would recommend reading the report in its entirety because it’s *fascinating*, and contains much more nuance than the broad strokes of “[e]very GM, Theo included knew.” That’s all I’m saying.

          I’d also recommend the USADA’s report on Lance Armstrong. Also, fascinating, and for much the same reason.

  11. cubzforlife

    What took so long for Saint Curt to spill the beans?

    1. TWC

      He was out of the spotlight for 5 minutes.

      1. hansman1982

        I can read the 2015 headline now:

        Curt Schilling says bloody sock was dipped in ketchup.

  12. Morken

    The mess Theo and company left in Boston, can not be overlooked.

    1. hansman1982

      Ya, God, I hope Theo gets us into a mess of 89 wins and one of the highest scoring teams in all of baseball (while playing in the toughest division in baseball). What a mess!

      Oh, you mean the mess that was 2012? I didn’t know it was allowed for 1 person to run two teams.

      1. Morken

        Using that same logic, the 2012 Cubs weren’t Jim Hendry ‘s fault?

        Anyway, Theo left the Red Sox a mess. There were problems in every facet of the franchise.

        While I’m willing to give Theo time, I can’t turn a blind eye to his tenure in Boston. He spent a ton. On top of that, many of the players for which Theo had success with, he inherited.

        Theo didn’t turn the Red Sox into a winner. He inherited a team on the brink.

        1. BluBlud

          I agree with most of this. It’s like most people here want give Theo all the credit in Boston and no blame for what was left behind, but as soon as we get to the Cubs, they give Hendry all the blame for what’s left behind.

          I don’t know whose fault what was, and it really doesn’t matter. Honestly, this is schilling begging for attention. It might be true, it might not. Really, who cares. It was 5 years ago. Why not come out if he was so against steroids. Like I said before, Theo is no saint, but he is also no more the devil then any other executive either. This story has no impact on “what Theo left behind in Boston”, be it good or bad.

          1. hansman1982

            Myself, personally, I believe a dash of Brett’s logic below, a dash of Theo is just a really good executive and a whole heaping of Execs make mistakes in player choices.

            I’d like someone to point out, outside of the rotation, how he left a mess in Boston.

          2. Morken


            Relax with your idol worship of Theo. Christ, I can almost hear you hyperventilating.

            There’s a reason he’s not in Boston anymore.

            1. hansman1982

              I’m not idol worshipping him. I think he is really good at what he does and he did not leave a mess in Boston. Obviously you think otherwise.

        2. hansman1982

          You’re right, Theo has managed to hoodwink the entirety of MLB and coast through 10 years in the AL East (while not once having a losing record) based on what his predecessor did. Basically, we can’t give him credit for 10 years of success, only the 2 years of failures.

          Theo took over a team fresh off 91 losses and lost 10 more games.

          Cherington took over a team with 90 wins and won 21 fewer games.

          I don’t know why I keep saying anything. Does no good, if you don’t like Theo there isn’t a damn thing I can say to change that.

          1. DB Kyle The Fabulously Unavatared

            I don’t know why you say anything, either, if all you’ve got is hysterical overreaction and strawman fallacies.

            It’s possible for Theo to simultaneously get credit for when his teams did well and criticism for when his teams did not. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

            1. Patrick W.

              Yeah, but.. that’s kind of like saying Ted Williams should be judged equally on the 52% of the time he DIDN’T get on base and the 48% (can you believe that?) times he DID get on base. We don’t really do that, right? We sort of think Ted Williams was an amazing hitter because of his success rate.

              1. Hansman1982

                Had Williams not lost 3 years to war and not been an ass to the media he’d be in the same conversation as babe Ruth.

              2. DB Kyle

                And I think, for his career, Theo Epstein has been an amazing GM.

          2. Scotti

            I like Theo. I think he’s a good GM. but saying he didn’t leave a mess in Boston is just silly. They blew that team up last year. You simply don’t do that to an 89-win team that isn’t messed up.

            On the Theo/PED thing… It goes a lot deeper than even the Mitchell Report which was pretty damning for Theo. Local Boston reporters over the years did pieces on the strength coaches who were roid freaks, the two go-fer boys who were roid freaks (and actual roid go-fers) and so on. And, yes, in the Mitchell Report, Theo inquired if a pitcher had broken down because of roid use and when his scout told him “yes” Theo THEN signed him. The implication there is that he was bringing a player with strong steroid connections into his clubhouse even though he could really discount his actual performance–the ATTRACTION was the steroid connection. That their three top players (Manny, Papi, Clemens) are all confirmed users (as well as minor players) is also a strike against.

            There is no doubt that certain teams benefited from steroids more than other teams and BOS is right up there with StL and OAK at the top.

            1. BluBlud

              I don’t think Clemens played in Boston while Theo was there. I could be wrong, but I think Theo was hired long after Clemens left. However, the connection to Papi, who he signed, Manny, who was there with for a while, along with a few others could be damning. The thing is though, I don’t believe this was a Theo, Boston thing, it was a Baseball thing. So to single out Theo because some idiot wants some face time is just stupid. I’m just as anti steroid as Schilling, and I think he’s an idiot.

              1. fromthemitten

                dude theo was still in law school when Clemens was in Boston

                1. fromthemitten

                  at least I’m basing that off the fact that he was 23 in his last season with the team

              2. Scotti

                You are correct on Clemens. Re. is it a Boston thing?… Yes, it is/was a baseball thing but there is no question that certain teams benefited more so than others. It would be inconceivable for it to cross all team barriers evenly. And the local media in Boston did a great job of spelling out what the clubhouse looked like (re. roids). The vast majority of clubhouses simply did NOT have one roid go-fer much less TWO. I would hazard to guess that even Oakland didn’t have a strength coach pushing roids.

                Most, of not all, teams looked the other way. Boston cultivated it and sought it out.

      2. DB Kyle

        He’s got to take the collar for the 2012 Cubs or the 2012 Red Sox. I don’t care which, but he can’t dodge them both.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          The 2012 Sox had the problem of the entire starting pitching staff falling apart late in 2011. For all of the stuff about Bobby V. creating a bad environment, that Sox clubhouse could have been The Loveboat and it wouldn’t have mattered given how poorly those guys all pitched in 2012.

          Now, it is the GM’s job to provide a team with some buffer. But when 4 guys fall off that badly, then that’s out of the GM’s hands. (We all remember the 1985 Cubs and how rapidly they fell after all 5 of their starters went on the DL at the same time.)

          As for where the Sox are now, the big issues is whether Lester, Buchholz & Lackey come back. As the odds of all three of them coming back are pretty low, I’m not overly sanguine: but less probable things happen every season.

  13. elizarudi15

    That picture cracks me right up.

  14. DB Kyle

    Hoyer’s denial doesn’t sway me much. Everyone denies everything.

    First, you have to discount this for the odds that Schilling is lying, which are reasonable.

    Then, divide it by the number of people it could be.

    Then, it seems to me that this is something more likely to come from a coach (former player, player’s buddy kind of thing) more than a nerdy front office type.

    So I’d say the odds are real but slim that one of our current guys did this.

  15. DarthHater

    “a passing fart in the wind”

    That should be Curt Schilling’s epitaph.

  16. MightyBear

    Can I get some “Kyle” clarification? There’s DB Kyle, DB Kyle The Fabulously Unavatared and Kyle. Which one’s new and which one is the Kyle who keeps whining the Cubs don’t spend enough payroll at the ML level? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. DB Kyle

      There’s a new “Kyle,” and the whiny Kyle generously allowed him to take over the name and accept the moniker of DB Kyle, because he’s all generous and cool like that.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        This is getting confusing. Am I still me? Or do I need to reboot?

        1. beerhelps

          Please reboot, you are now actually Michigan Goat

          1. MichiganGoat

            I’ve been summoned? Looks like I missed some interesting conversation.

            1. DarthHater

              Jeez, he’s like Beetlejuice!

            2. DocPeterWimsey

              Yeah, I’m you now. I’m not sure who you are. Maybe another Kyle?

              1. DH Kyle

                He is now MG Kyle! ;-)

                1. DocPeterWimsey

                  Wow, it’s like that Ozzie Rules Football group where I used to post: here a Bruce, there are Bruce, everywhere a Bruce Bruce….

                  1. DH Kyle

                    Surely, there must be some kind of statistical name for the phenomenon… ;-)

                    1. DocPeterWimsey


        2. DarthHater

          I thought late-model robots came standard with functioning douche-dar, which should make it easy to identify our own beloved Kyle.

  17. DPRagen

    Not to defend Theo but what possible objection could anyone have to the use of HGH to promote healing of injuries?

  18. fromthemitten

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Terry Francona considering he’s (allegedly) a pill popper

    1. Spencer

      Schilling shoulda just outed whoever it was. He wanted publicity; he got it. Might as well go all the way.

      1. fromthemitten

        yeah it’s a chicken shit move unless he wants to promote an upcoming autobiography to pay off his failed video game debts

  19. Die hard

    Schilling a blow hard- put up or shut up

  20. Patrick W.

    Pretty close, but of course you’d have to remove Ruth’s pitching years.

    1941: 37hr 120rbi
    1942: 36hr 137rbi
    1943: WWll
    1944: WWII
    1945: WWII
    1946: 38hr 123rbi
    1947: 32hr 114rbi

    1. Patrick W.

      no idea why that posted here

  21. CubbieBubba

    did they also encourage bucket of chicken binges?

  22. MLB Calls Theo Epstein’s PED Handling Skills “Above Reproach” and Other Bullets | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    [...] Schilling PED story, MLB released a statement about what happened back in 2008 with the Red Sox, when Schilling says a member of the organization suggested he try PEDs to extend his career: ”At the time of the incident in question in [...]