-- Lawyers for Steve Bechler's widow today established a memorial fund in the name of the Baltimore Orioles pitcher, who died Feb. 17 of heatstroke at the age of 23.
The Steve Bechler Memorial Account will benefit Kiley Bechler, who is due to deliver the couple's first child, a girl, in April.
David Meiselman, Kiley Bechler's attorney, praised the Orioles for their assistance in setting up the account and for their promised contributions. However, he said he still has not ruled out including the team in a planned lawsuit.
"It's not going to affect what we have to do for Kiley from a legal standpoint," Meiselman said. "If we have to sue the Orioles, we will. But so far they have been cooperative and helpful."
Meiselman already has announced plans to sue Cytodyne Technologies, which manufactures Xenadrine RFA-1, the over-the-counter diet supplement believed to have contributed to Bechler's death. Xenadrine RFA-1 contains the controversial stimulant ephedra, which has been banned by the NFL, NCAA and International Olympic Committee, but not by Major League Baseball.
Today, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who chaired hearings last year on the use of steroids and other drugs in baseball, called for new hearings to look into the use of ephedra in the sport. Dorgan said Bechler's death suggests baseball's new drug testing policy, which excludes ephedra, is inadequate.
Although Meiselman has not accused the Orioles of any wrongdoing in Bechler's death, Cytodyne has suggested the Orioles were negligent in allowing Bechler to participate in workouts given a medical history that includes borderline hypertension and liver abnormalities.
The Orioles have denied those suggestions, saying their workouts were not strenuous enough on their own to have caused heatstroke, and Joshua Perper, the Broward County Medical Examiner, has praised the quick response of the team's training and medical staffs to Bechler's collapse during a workout on Feb. 16.
Perper has pointed to Bechler's use of ephedra as a contributing factor in Bechler's death. He plans to release a final autopsy report, including results of a toxicology test, within two weeks.
Donations to The Steve Bechler Memorial Account can be made in care of U.S. Bank, 131 East Main Street, Medford, Ore. 97501. Orioles owner Peter Angelos was expected to make the first contribution. Orioles players will be taking up a separate collection among themselves, according to veteran pitcher Pat Hentgen.
Also today, plans were announced for a memorial service for Bechler on March 8 at the auditorium of South Medford (Ore.) High School, Bechler's alma mater.
Orioles Notes: The team opens its Grapefruit League schedule Thursday at Jupiter, Fla., against the Florida Marlins. Left-hander Omar Daal and right-hander Sidney Ponson, the Orioles' projected Nos. 2 and 3 starters, are scheduled to pitch two innings each for the Orioles. . . .
Veteran right-hander Scott Erickson was roughed up in his first live outing of the spring, giving up three hits, one walk and one earned run in two innings today in an intrasquad game. Pitchers were limited to fastballs and changeups. . . .
David Cone, 40, will get his first spring training start with the New York Mets in a split-squad game against the Orioles Saturday in Fort Lauderdale.