Named in Mitchell Report, former major leaguer Fernando Vina admits using HGH
NEW YORK -- Former major league infielder Fernando Vina on Monday admitted using human growth hormone in 2003 as he attempted to heal from injuries.
Vina, now an ESPN baseball analyst, was named last week in the Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs. The report said he also purchased steroids from ex-New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, but Vina denied those claims.
"I never bought steroids from him. All I used was HGH," Vina said in an interview on ESPN.
An All-Star second baseman with Milwaukee in 1998, Vina also played for Seattle, the Mets, St. Louis and Detroit during a 12-year career that ended in 2004.
Slow to recover from knee and hamstring injuries, Vina played only 61 games for the Cardinals in 2003. He said he was under pressure from the team and himself to get back on the field, so he tried HGH.
"I tried everything rehabbing," Vina said. "I came to a point that I was desperate."
Backup catcher Gary Bennett, also named by Mitchell, said he took HGH in 2003 because of a knee injury. He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday.
At 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, Vina said he wasn't trying to bulk up -- his job was to slap the ball around and use his quickness to get on base. He said he turned to HGH hoping to get healthy.
"Was it right? No. Obviously, it was wrong," Vina said. "I'm embarrassed by it."
He also said the drug didn't help him much. Vina played in only 29 games for the Tigers in 2004, his final season. He had played in at least 150 games in 2001 and 2002 with St. Louis.
"Bottom line, it was stupid. I'm embarrassed now, and it didn't help, either," Vina said.
He also said Mitchell's investigators never contacted him directly, but heard rumblings via his agent. Vina said he never spoke to Mitchell.
Vina said he met Radomski while with the Mets in 1994. Radomski pleaded guilty in April to selling performance-enhancing drugs to major leaguers. He provided information to former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell during his 20-month investigation.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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