Pitchers able to reload, rearm

Updated: June 22, 2006, 11:40 AM ET
By Buster Olney | ESPN The Magazine
Not long after he opened his eyes, the big league pitcher could tell this morning was different. Still lying in bed, he lifted his right shoulder, his arm bent at the elbow, and instinctively braced for the pain. But there wasn't any. For a moment, he was confused.

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The mornings after were always the worst. That's the way it is when you're thirtysomething and you throw a baseball for a living. He had worked in the bullpen the day before, full bore, pumping fastballs, and of course there would be a price for this, paid out in pain. The pitcher's hangover.

And then he remembered: He was on steroids. It was all aboveboard; his doctor had prescribed them because of a medical condition unrelated to baseball. With his arm in the air, the pitcher rotated his shoulder slightly. It felt great. His elbow felt great. He couldn't believe the difference. "It was like I hadn't even thrown the day before," he says now. "And the stuff I was taking wasn't even all that strong. The illegal stuff must be incredible."

Buster Olney | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine