Positive test would be violation of probation

Updated: September 13, 2004, 6:04 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Former NL Most Valuable Player Ken Caminiti was arrested and spent the weekend in jail because of an alleged positive drug test that would be a violation of his probation for cocaine possession.

"They're investigating the possibility there may be a dirty urine sample," Caminiti's lawyer, Kent Schaffer, said Monday.

Caminiti, who won the 1996 NL MVP award with San Diego, will appear in court Tuesday because of an arrest warrant issued for the alleged violation. He was arrested at his home Friday and remained jailed through the weekend, Schaffer said. Because state District Judge Bill Harmon is out, Schaffer said Tuesday's appearance likely will be brief. A formal hearing will be scheduled before Harmon.

The retired slugger was on probation after he was arrested with two others in November 2001 at a southwest Houston motel room, where police also found less than a gram of cocaine, two crack pipes and a crude device fashioned to smoke crack.

Caminiti pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years' deferred adjudication probation, meaning he could erase the conviction from his record if he stayed clean.

However, Caminiti ended up back in Harmon's courtroom after testing positive for cocaine in January 2003. He was ordered to spend six months in a state jail facility for drug treatment.

Caminiti, 41, only spent about 4½ months in the intensive treatment program because it lost state funding, Schaffer said.

"They had to quit their drug counseling therapy," Schaffer said of the jail. "The Legislature quit funding the program."

The Harris County District Attorney's office did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Harmon's court confirmed a 10 a.m. ET hearing Tuesday.

Caminiti, a switch hitter known for his powerful throwing arm and potent bat, arrived in the major leagues with the Houston Astros in 1987, then was traded to the San Diego Padres in 1994 in a 12-player deal that brought outfielder Derek Bell to Houston.

He spent four years in San Diego, then returned to the Astros for two seasons. His last season was 2001, split between the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves, and his arrest occurred shortly afterward.

Schaffer said Caminiti could face a full three years in a state jail if Harmon decides to revoke probation.

Last September, Caminiti talked frankly about his problems to attendees at a health fair in the Houston area.

"It's not easy to share about how drugs and alcohol have messed you up," he was quoted as saying in the Houston Chronicle. "The deal with me was, when I looked in the mirror, I was so good at lying to myself that even I didn't know how bad it was. I was in what you call denial. That's something you've got to look hard at yourself about and know that you've got a problem and be ready to fix it. It's very fixable and your life does get better.

"My life has been a full turnaround."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press