Read your labels
Torre to talk to Wells about his occasional use of ephedraPosted: Saturday February 22, 2003 5:23 PM
Updated: Sunday February 23, 2003 3:24 AM
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- New York Yankees manager Joe Torre will talk with David Wells about the pitcher's use of ephedra, the nutritional supplement that might have contributed to the death of Baltimore pitcher Steve Bechler.
Wells occasionally uses an over-the-counter supplement containing the substance.
"I'm just going to tell him, like we tell all the players, make sure you take care of your body," Torre said Saturday. "That's basically what it's going to be about. He's a grown up. Especially now with the attention that this has gotten, I think everybody should check their labels."
Torre said the doctor who takes your physical should be aware of any supplement taken.
"I think the trick of his whole thing is, and the false sense of security, that when you buy something over the counter that it's safe," Torre said. "That goes back to abusing something if you're not following directions or it doesn't mix with whatever else is going on in your body. That's what's important. I think the doctor that takes your physical should pretty much know what you're putting in your body to see how it works."
Bechler died Monday, a day after collapsing at spring training with heatstroke. A Florida medical examiner said the death may have been linked to an ephedra-based diet pill, Xenadrine RFA-1.
While ephedra is banned by the NFL, the NCAA and the International Olympic Committee, use of the substance, which is available without prescription, is allowed in baseball.
"I'm not a daily user at all," Wells said. "I just do if I feel sluggish."
Wells said he has experienced pressure first hand about his weight.
"They just throw numbers out there," Wells said. "This guy should weigh this. If you don't, your job can be in jeopardy. Or they're going to overlook you.
"They should be accountable for that," Wells added. "They don't realize what it takes. This kid, he's so eager and his mindset is to make that ballclub, he's going to do whatever it takes. When you get pressure from the organization, you've got to do this and there not going to give you any leeway, now this kid is going to be stuck in the minor leagues for a while until he loses his weight."
Wells was hospitalized in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for an irregular heartbreak during spring training 1996 while with the Baltimore Orioles. Treatment included stopping his heart and then restarting it with a defibrillator.
At the time Wells said he was using a product called Ripped Fuel, which has ephedra.
"I took too much," Wells said. "I was dieting, doing a lot of cardiovascular and taking that stuff. Those three don't mix. They want you to be a certain weight. Then all of a sudden, the only thing you're concentrating on is trying to lose weight."
Wells said when he pitched for Toronto, the team fined him $100 a pound when he was over the prescribed weight.
For players with problems making weight, Wells has a suggestion.
"If that's the case, then the organization, if he's a high prospect, should hire somebody to go with that kid 24-7 if that's what it takes," Wells said. "If that's how much they care. But you know what, they don't care. They say get there and if not, then you pay the consequences if you don't. I'm living proof of that."
"They just want you to look good in the lobby, that's the bottom line."
Wells does not believe ephedra should be banned.
"It's not illegal," Wells said. "It's the individual who takes it. If he doesn't have a sense to read the label and know his condition, go through with a fine tooth comb and read the warning signs. If you don't understand it, don't take it."