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TO CHEAT OR NOT TO CHEAT
TOM VERDUCCI
June 04, 2012
A DECADE AFTER KEN CAMINITI HELPED PULL BASEBALL'S STEROID PROBLEM OUT OF THE SHADOWS, THOSE WHO CHASED THE BIG LEAGUE DREAM IN A DIRTY ERA STILL WRESTLE WITH HOW THEY DEALT WITH THE DILEMMA OF A GENERATION
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June 04, 2012

To Cheat Or Not To Cheat

A DECADE AFTER KEN CAMINITI HELPED PULL BASEBALL'S STEROID PROBLEM OUT OF THE SHADOWS, THOSE WHO CHASED THE BIG LEAGUE DREAM IN A DIRTY ERA STILL WRESTLE WITH HOW THEY DEALT WITH THE DILEMMA OF A GENERATION

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He took the steroids that winter and something incredible did happen: He got better.

"I was, at best, an average hitter," Horn says. "A good fastball could tie me up. When I had the stuff in me I could get to those pitches easier. With steroids you could do those things you otherwise couldn't do. The things that kept you in the minor leagues all of a sudden didn't hold you back anymore.

"It's not like you could take a guy off the street, give him steroids and he can hit a Jered Weaver fastball. But if you have the ability to do it, you can get a little help doing things you were not able to do."

Horn loved big league camp. He played golf with Chipper Jones and Greg Maddux, picked the brains of Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and especially Maddux. "For some reason he took me under his wing and taught me a lot about pitching," Horn says.

One time he asked Maddux, "When you're 0 and 2, do you want me to move even further outside? Because if I do, I'll be in the other batter's box."

"Nah," Maddux said. "Just stay in the same spot. I'll decide when I miss."

Says Horn, "He could put the ball exactly where he wanted it." There was nothing like this in the minors.

"It felt like the eight years prior were worth every minute to have those two months in big league camp," he says. "I feel very lucky and blessed. That was only spring training. I can only imagine what the regular season is like."

During a game in camp, Horn suffered two herniated disks in his neck in a collision at home plate. He wound up playing just 13 games in Triple A in 2000 before he needed surgery. He was done for the year. Horn had been 220 pounds, but dropped to 178 pounds after the surgery. "I needed some help to get back to where I was," he says.

He went back on steroids. He returned to Double A in 2001 and hit close to his career minor league average of .258. Then one day in June, somebody told him he needed to give a urine sample for a drug test. It was the first year of a Bud Selig--mandated program under which all minor leaguers who were not on 40-man rosters would be tested for PEDs. (Players on the 40-man roster were protected by the union, which was holding firm to its stance against random testing.) Horn wasn't worried. He hadn't taken steroids in three months.

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