CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Reds manager Dusty Baker was in San Francisco with the Giants and Barry Bonds during the height of baseball's steroid scandal. Now the Mitchell report suggests the Reds' new field boss knew something was up in California -- but kept quiet. In the past, Baker has implied that reports of baseball steroid use were overblown, and he has likened the concerns to a witch hunt.
But Baker discovered from his light-hitting outfielder Marvin Benard that there was truth to some of the steroid use allegations surfacing after the BALCO raids in 2003. Benard, a Nicaraguan, was a Baker favorite during his seasons in San Francisco. Benard admitted to Baker that he had used steroids. Baker kept the information to himself and didn't pass it up the chain of command.
Former Sen. George Mitchell's 409-page report about the use of performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball has this to say about the Reds' skipper:
"Dusty Baker was the manager of the San Francisco Giants in 2003 when the news of the BALCO raids broke. Baker advised my investigators in an interview that he was close to Marvin Benard and was 'completely shocked' when he became aware of the allegations that Benard used steroids. After Baker learned of the allegations, he asked Benard if they were true. According to Baker, Benard admitted he has used steroids previously but said that he had stopped. Baker did not report the Benard admission to anyone in Giants management or the Commissioner's Office."
Mitchell does not accuse Baker of a cover up. But it appears he is saying that Baker had learned of a problem and did nothing. Benard played nine seasons, 891 games, with the Giants. He had a .271 average.