Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Steve Howe, who twice has undergone treatment for cocaine dependency, was suspended by the club again today.
Executive Vice President Fred Claire said: "Howe was suspended after a series of events that included his failure to make the Dodgers' team charter to Atlanta on Thursday morning, his refusal to take a test to determine if his conduct resulted from the use of prohibited substances after arriving in Atlanta late Thursday evening, and his reported departure from the team today."
He has been on a probationary program since June 29, five days after he was released from the CareUnit Hospital at Orange, Calif., where he had undergone treatment for drug dependency. He was fined $54,000, the amount of his salary for the time he missed while in the treatment center, and placed on three years probation by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. Howe has appealed the fine.
Howe, 25, was suspended by the club in July after he reported three hours late to Dodger Stadium the previous day. He was reinstated the following day after he underwent tests indicating no prohibited substances. Last November and December he underwent treatment for the problem at a rehabilitation center in Arizona.
Claire said this time Howe missed a meeting with him scheduled Monday to review his rehabilitation progress and had not submitted all of his reports in compliance with the probationary program.
"Howe failed to make the Dodgers' team flight on Thursday, which was scheduled for an 11 a.m. departure," Claire's statement said. "He later left Los Angeles for Atlanta on a 3:30 p.m. flight, but the Dodgers received no call from him to explain his absence and it was only after the Dodgers initiated calls that they discovered Howe was on a later flight."
That flight was met by two Dodgers officials.
They said Howe did not give satisfactory reasons for his failure to call the Dodgers' office to explain his circumstances. The player was asked to take a urinalysis test, the statement said, to detect (any) presence of prohibited substances, but he refused to take the test.
The Dodgers said Howe's acting representative, Peter Chicerelli, had said the player would submit to the test on his arrival in Atlanta.
The Dodgers said they planned to ask Howe to take the test today. However, the pitcher had left his hotel when officials arrived. Chicerelli said Howe had told him he was returning to Southern California to see his personal physician.
"We will begin a thorough investigation immediately," said Kuhn, who said today's action by the Dodgers had been taken after consultation with his office. "We will be working with the Dodgers, Steve Howe and the others involved to develop the whole story."