02/18 - Orioles prospect dies of heatstroke - East Valley Tribune: News

02/18 - Orioles prospect dies of heatstroke

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Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 1:04 pm | Updated: 1:45 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect Steve Bechler died of heatstroke Monday, unable to recover from a spring training workout that sent his temperature to 108 degrees.

An autopsy will help determine whether Bechler had been taking the dietary supplement ephedrine, which has been linked to heatstroke and heart attacks.

Broward County medical examiner Dr. Joshua Perper acknowledged a published report that a bottle of a supplement containing ephedrine was found in Bechler’s locker.

Regarding the bottle, Perper said: ‘‘My understanding is it exists, but we don’t have it.’’

A workout Sunday left Bechler pale and dizzy, and when his condition worsened, he was carried from the clubhouse to an ambulance on a stretcher. He spent the night in intensive care and died at 10:10 a.m. Monday at Northridge Medical Center.

His wife, Kiley, due to deliver the couple’s first child in April, was at his bedside. She and Bechler, 23, married last year.

William Goldiner, the Orioles’ team physician, said Bechler died of ‘‘multi-organ failure due to heatstroke.’’

‘‘He would rebound at times. They thought they were getting ahead of it, and then another organ system would fail,’’ Goldiner said at a news conference at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.

Bechler, at 6-foot-2 and 239 pounds, had battled weight trouble in the past. Asked about the pitcher’s conditioning, manager Mike Hargrove was quoted as saying it was ‘‘not good.’’

The temperature at noon Sunday was 81 degrees and the humidity was 74 percent, the National Weather Service said.

Goldiner said he wasn’t aware of any evidence that Bechler had been taking a dietary supplement such as ephedrine, which has been banned by the NCAA and NFL but not by Major League Baseball. The Orioles’ policy is to discourage the use of the amphetamine-like stimulant, he said.

‘‘Weight-loss drugs are never prescribed by us,’’ Goldiner said. ‘‘They’re never condoned by us.’’

Orioles spokesman Bill Stetka said he could neither confirm nor deny a report by The Washington Times that a bottle of a supplement containing ephedrine was found in Bechler’s locker.

Perper said his medical examiner’s office would begin an autopsy today, and that it could be two or three weeks before the final results are known.

Said baseball spokesman Rich Levin: ‘‘We’re going to wait to find out more about what happened.’’

Funeral arrangements were pending.

A native of Medford, Ore., Bechler was a 1998 thirdround draft pick by the Orioles.

‘‘Steve was a tough guy; he was a competitor,’’ Hargrove said. ‘‘I didn’t know him that well, but I knew him well enough to know he loved the game and loved to compete.’’

Bechler made his major league debut last September, going 0-0 with a 13.50 ERA in three relief appearances. He was expected to begin this season with the club’s Class AAA affiliate in Ottawa. He spent most of last season at Class AAA Rochester, going 6-11 with a 4.09 ERA in 24 starts.He had a 35-48 record in five minor-league seasons.

Orioles players were briefed about Bechler’s condition during a clubhouse meeting before Monday’s workout. They were summoned inside a short while later and told of his death.

Bechler fell down while running drills Sunday and Hargrove said he could tell Bechler wasn’t feeling well toward the end of the run.

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