Report: Spiezio seeking help for alcohol, drug abuse

Updated: August 10, 2007, 9:13 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals utility player Scott Spiezio voluntarily sought treatment for "possible problems related to substances" that the team did not specify.

Scott Spiezio

Spiezio

Spiezio, who has relished a hard-rocking image through his 12 seasons in the major leagues, was placed on the restricted list Thursday and will be paid while he undergoes treatment. He has not played since Sunday.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said the team learned of the problem Wednesday night and expected that Spiezio will "absolutely" return this season. La Russa would not say what substances were involved or where the treatment will take place.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, citing club and industry sources, reported Friday that it has confirmed Spiezio is seeking treatment for alcohol and drug abuse.

"He realized he had a problem and wanted to get some help," general manager Walt Jocketty told the Post-Dispatch. "We're obviously very supportive and want nothing more than for him to get whatever assistance he needs."

Spiezio is not being disciplined by Major League Baseball under its drug program.

"It speaks highly of Scott to come forward admitting recognition of a potential problem," Cardinals physician Dr. George Paletta said. "This allows the organization to provide him access to the appropriate resources for further evaluation and treatment."

The Cardinals said in a statement that "Spiezio came forward to the club concerned about possible problems related to substances he was taking unbeknown to the team's medical staff."

Before Wednesday's game, La Russa said he thought Spiezio had been hampered by a minor medical concern.

"I wasn't sure until yesterday that there was something besides a virus or a bug or whatever," La Russa said.

According to the Post-Dispatch, Spiezio received intravenous fluid during and following Monday night's game. He had an elevated heart rate, was sweating profusely and noticeably irritated and anxious, a person familiar with the situation told the newspaper.

When someone suggested that he be hospitalized and have a blood test, Spiezio abruptly disconnected the IV and left Busch Stadium, sources confirmed for the Post-Dispatch.

Spiezio, who played a big role as the Cardinals won last year's World Series, is hitting .272 this season with three homers and 27 RBIs in 184 at-bats. His father, Ed Spiezio, played for the Cardinals, San Diego and the Chicago White Sox from 1964-72.

This year Spiezio has been hampered by an infected finger, appearing in only 11 games since June 26.

His absence hurts the Cardinals mostly at third base, where he was the backup to Scott Rolen. The Cardinals recalled outfielder Rick Ankiel instead of adding another infielder.

La Russa said Aaron Miles would back up at third base and that outfielder So Taguchi could also help in the infield.

Spiezio has a heavy metal band, SandFrog, and played on television with Zakk Wylde, a guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne. He has dyed his goatee bright red since joining the Cardinals as a non-roster invitee to spring training in 2006.

When he helped the Angels win the 2002 World Series, sparking their comeback with a three-run homer in Game 6 against San Francisco, Spiezio had streaks of red in his hair and a bright goatee.

The 34-year-old is earning $2.1 million in 2007 in the first season of a $4.5 million, two-year contract.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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