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Regretful Santangelo comes clean

Ex-Oak Ridge star says he wanted to extend career.

By Joe Davidson - jdavidson@sacbee.com

Published 12:00 am PST Friday, December 14, 2007
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A22

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Now a morning radio host on KHTK, former major leaguer F.P. Santangelo admits he took human growth hormone. His name appeared Thursday in baseball's Mitchell Report. Jose Luis Villegas / jvillegas@sacbee.com

 

F.P. Santangelo said the most trying part was sitting his two sons down and telling them he was a baseball cheat.

Santangelo, a Sacramento morning radio host, was named in the report by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell as someone who used performance-enhancing drugs in major league baseball.

Santangelo said in an interview that part of the report is accurate – that he took human growth hormones. But he insisted that alleged use of the drug Deca-Durabolin, an anabolic steroid, and testosterone was false, despite the Mitchell report findings.

The report included testimony that when Santangelo and Adam Piatt were teammates with the minor-league Sacramento River Cats in 2002, Santangelo told Piatt that supplier and former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski "will get you what you need."

"I don't know where that came from," said Santangelo, a journeyman player who batted .245 over his career and is now a part of the Rise Guys on KHTK (1140 AM). "I never did any of that.

"But I did growth hormones. I was at a point of my career when I took it – twice – because I panicked. I didn't want my career to end. I can't justify it and say it was right, because cheating is wrong, but I admit, I did it."

Santangelo went to Oak Ridge High School and Sacramento City College. He carved out a 13-year professional career, including parts of seven seasons in the major leagues and stops with the Giants and A's.

Fernándo Viña, a former Valley High School star and ex-major league infielder, was also mentioned in the report. Viña, who is now a commentator for ESPN's "Baseball Tonight," could not be reached for comment.

According to the report, Radomski said he sold Viña anabolic steroids or human growth hormone six to eight times from 2000-2005.

Radomski produced three checks from Viña. Radomski stated that these checks were for a March 2003 purchase of HGH, an April 2003 purchase by Viña of steroids, most likely Winstrol, and a July 2005 purchase by Viña of Deca-Durabolin.

The report also included a check from Santangelo to Radomski dated Oct. 23, 2000. It added that Santangelo's name, with address and two telephone numbers, were in a book seized from Radomski's home by federal agents. The report said Santangelo declined to discuss the allegations with Mitchell.

Santangelo said Thursday he took HGH to recover from injuries. He was hit by a pitch during the 1998 season, when he was with the Montreal Expos, and shattered bone fragments and ripped apart a knee tendon. Santangelo gutted out the reminder of the season – two months – before off-season surgery. He was released by the Expos just before Christmas in 1998.

Rehabilitation didn't produce results, Santangelo said, so he went to a friend who offered HGH. He said he used a syringe for two weeks and was amazed at the results.

"I recovered, got strong," Santangelo said. "I was afraid my career was over. I needed to keep playing. I had to feed my family, and that's why I did it.

"I did it even though I was always against the idea. I was able to play for the Giants in 1999. I would never advise anyone to do this. I am not advocating this at all. It's a bad, horrible thing. "

Santangelo said he didn't use HGH again until 2000 after a tough season with the Dodgers in which he batted .197. His season was cut short with torn ligaments in his wrist.

"It worked before so I did it again and it helped," Santangelo said. "I was against that stuff all my career and I did it when I felt I had to. I was scared of my career ending.

"I am not proud of it, and I have to suffer some public disgrace and embarrassment. But I've come clean. I know people will be mad because I've talked about being against this stuff for years. I'm mad at myself. It's a secret I've kept for a long time."

Santangelo said he spoke to his KHTK bosses about the report earlier in the week. He does not know what his long-term status is with 1140 – KHTK program director Mike Remy offered no comment– though Santangelo talked about the Mitchell report at 4:30 p.m. on the air with Mike Lamb.

Santangelo said he would be on the air again from 7 to 9 a.m. today.

"Steroids is a bad thing. Don't touch it. I've seen what it does," Santangelo said. "I saw it kill one friend in the game in Ken Caminiti. I saw another friend suffer with liver problems. I've seen marriages end in divorce. I've seen the mood swings.

"And I can't say it didn't affect me in that way, either. I'm divorced. I changed. All I can do now is admit what I've done and tell people not to touch the stuff. I can't say I'll be a forefront crusader, but if I've helped one kid stay away from it by coming clean, then that's good."

Santangelo also works for Fox Sports Net/Bay Area, a cable sports television network, doing pregame and sideline reports for Giants games.

FSN Bay Area general manager Ted Griggs said that Santangelo told him of the Mitchell report "two or three weeks ago" at a charity function.

"He was quite visibly upset, embarrassed and ashamed," Griggs said. "He said he had to tell his parents and his children.

"I don't condone what he did, but I certainly feel for him on a human level."

Will he work for FSN Bay Area again?

"It's pretty much on a year-to-year basis," Griggs said. "I hope to work something out, figure out some way for him to work for us. I like him as a friend very much.

"We'll see how things play out and hopefully figure something out."

About the writer:

  • Bee sports editor Bill Bradley contributed to this report. Call Joe Davidson, (916) 321-1280.

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