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Rumor has it

Pujols' trainer denies link to performance enhancers

Posted: Friday June 9, 2006 1:00PM; Updated: Friday June 9, 2006 5:57PM
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Albert Pujols takes batting practice with Chris Mihlfeld, right,  in preseason workouts in February.
Albert Pujols takes batting practice with Chris Mihlfeld, right, in preseason workouts in February.
Clay Patrick McBride/SI

Whew, the rumors are running wild out there. The rumors, in fact, are going on anything. Speculation has a major green light right now. Hearsay has just run straight through a stop sign.

Baseball's latest steroids scandal is now in full-blown, screaming 72-point type. Pitcher Jason Grimsley, caught with a box full of human growth hormone, rolled over for federal investigators in a two-hour interrogation on April 19, and the new game in and around baseball is trying to figure out all the names he named.

So in an effort to further this story that won't go away, here's a name for you: Chris Mihlfeld.

"I figured my name would get thrown out there somewhere," Mihlfeld told me from his Kansas City-area gym on Thursday.

Maybe you've never heard of Mihlfeld. He's not a player. He doesn't work for Major League Baseball or any of its teams, not anymore. But Mihlfeld is a player in the game, a personal trainer to the biggest star in the game: Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, currently on the disabled list with a strained right oblique. Mihlfeld also has close ties to Royals slugger Mike Sweeney.

At least one website fairly well-known in sports circles suggests that Mihlfeld is the personal trainer whose name has been redacted from page 14 of the affidavit that details Grimsley's talk with IRS Criminal Investigations special agent Jeff Novitzky. A  paragraph of that page reads, in part, as follows:

"Grimsley stated that [blacked out], a former employee of the [blacked out] and personal fitness trainer to several Major League Baseball players, once referred him to an amphetamine source. Grimsley stated that after this referral he secured amphetamines, anabolic steroids, and human growth hormone from [blacked out] referred source."

Mihlfeld served as a scout for the Royals and was their strength-and-conditioning coordinator as recently as 2004. He also has worked in minor league capacities for the Dodgers and the Devil Rays. He helped Grimsley rehabilitate last year after Tommy John surgery.

"I know Jason Grimsley very well," Mihlfeld said. "And I have only two statements to make. One, Jason Grimsley is still my good friend. And two, I've never been involved in any illegal steroids, amphetamines or HGH activity. Period."

Publicly, at least, nobody is yet claiming that Mihlfeld has done anything wrong. Certainly, nobody should be making the leap that he or Pujols or Sweeney are guilty of anything. Right now it's speculation on a website, talk in chat rooms and whispers in clubhouses. A lot of "what if?" and "do you think?" and "could it be?"