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Bechler had a history with heart ailments

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 20, 2003


FORT LAUDERDALE -- Steve Bechler, the Orioles pitcher who died Monday of complications from heatstroke, had two previous heat-related illnesses, his parents said.

"In high school, he had a couple of heatstrokes," Bechler's mother, Pat, said. "He was probably 16, 17 years old. Both of them happened when he was playing baseball."

Bechler's half-brother, Ernie Jr., died at age 20 from a brain aneurysm.

"He came in from playing baseball one day," Ernie Sr. said of his son from a first marriage. "He was hot, and he suddenly had a severe headache. He collapsed on the floor, and he was dead by the time the paramedics got there."

Despite the family history, the Bechlers still were trying to cope.

"We're still having trouble getting ourselves through how it happened like it did," Ernie Bechler said. "We were in the limousine on the way to the hospital when we found out.

"When I looked at him, he looked like he had been beat up. He was black and blue, and his body was all swollen. It was the result of what he had been through."

Wednesday, Orioles and former Rays right-hander Jason Johnson was rushed off a practice field after a diabetic episode but appeared to be okay.

UMPS EVALUATION: Management has proposed evaluating umpires with a computer system the union already has challenged before the National Labor Relations Board. Umpires objected last year to the use of the Questec system on a trial basis, and owners proposed to the World Umpires Association last week that their ball-and-strike calls be measured against the computer's tracking of calls.

ASTROS: Second baseman Jeff Kent's Houston debut was put off because he didn't feel well.

A'S: Shortstop Miguel Tejada failed to report, telling the team he is caring for his sick daughter at home in the Dominican Republic.

D'BACKS: The team is requiring that players spend 10 minutes before each night home game signing autographs for fans.

GIANTS: Outfielder Barry Bonds had a 10-minute operation on his left elbow to remove a quarter-inch ball of scar tissue and suture from a previous surgery. ... Left-hander Kirk Rueter agreed to a two-year, $12-million extension through 2005.

MARINERS: Right-hander Freddy Garcia will start March 25 when Seattle opens the regular season against the A's in Tokyo.

MARLINS: Right-hander A.J. Burnett lost baseball's final arbitration case. He will make $2.5-million this season instead of the $3.075-million he sought.

PIRATES: The team is finalizing a contract with outfielder Reggie Sanders.

RED SOX: New seats atop Fenway Park's Green Monster in left might not be ready for the home opener April 11 because of the recent snowstorm and construction delays.

ROCKIES: Third baseman Jeff Baker, a fourth-round pick in last year's amateur draft, had surgery on his left wrist and is expected to recover fully before the regular season.

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