Tom Trebelhorn was on another field Monday at the Baltimore Orioles' spring training complex in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., when Steve Bechler collapsed. Hours later, the pitching prospect was dead at 23, the victim of multisystem organ failure caused by heatstroke.
Trebelhorn, Baltimore's third-base coach and the former manager of the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, had a special connection with Bechler, a former South Medford High standout. Trebelhorn is a Portland native who played college ball at Portland State.
'We're both Oregon kids,' Trebelhorn says. 'We used to talk about Medford and what was going on in our state. And he was scouted by (late Portlander) Jerry Zimmerman. I think he was one of the last guys Zim drafted out of Oregon.'
Trebelhorn considered Bechler a throwback.
'He had three pitches Ñ fastball, curveball, changeup Ñ and a knack for pitching,' Trebelhorn says. 'He would have been one of our top 15 players coming out of camp, though I think he would have started the season with our Triple-A club in Ottawa. He was a real good kid. He meant well.'
Bechler, a third-round selection in the 1998 draft, had a cup of coffee with the Orioles last spring, with no decisions and a 13.50 ERA in three relief appearances after spending his first five seasons in the minors. He was 6-foot-2 and arrived in camp at about 260, which the club considered at least 20 pounds overweight.
Toxicology reports found the drug ephedrine Ñ frequently used for weight loss Ñ in his system. The drug is banned by the NFL and NBA but not by the major leagues. Ephedrine can cause a rise in body heat; Bechler's body temperature peaked at 108 before he died.
'When I saw Steve earlier that morning, he was going through drills just fine,' Trebelhorn says. 'I even remarked how he looked good. But Steve has always had a bit of problem in keeping the weight down, and he was taking shortcuts to lose some.
'It's a lesson we try to keep teaching people in all walks of life: If you're overweight, exercise more and eat less; and if you're exercising, keep yourself hydrated with water.
'There were hypertension and liver problems involved with Steve's (death), too. It's a tragic ending that could have been avoided.'
• Ex-Jefferson High great Aaron Miles didn't make many fans in Iowa State country after the Kansas guard's involvement in a second-half skirmish during the Jayhawks' 70-51 win Sunday.
Players from both teams tangled after a battle for a rebound. As Iowa State's Jared Homan tried to restrain Miles from entering the fray, Miles struck the back of Homan's head with his right hand. Each player received a technical, but neither was ejected.
'I am really concerned about (Miles) taking a swipe at the back of the head of Homan,' Iowa State Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde told the Des Moines Register. 'He should have been kicked out of the game. It was a punch. It was an inappropriate action.'
Game officials ruled the 'punch' a push, and Miles said he has no regrets.
'If my little brother was to get into a scuffle, I would go help him,' the sophomore point guard said. When teammate Wayne Simien got pushed, 'I did the same thing,' he said.
• Marian Hossa has plenty of goals Ñ pun intended Ñ as he approaches the final six weeks of the NHL's regular season.
Through Wednesday, the All-Star wing of the Ottawa Senators was tied for the league lead with 38 goals with Vancouver's Markus Naslund. Hossa, star of the Winter Hawks' 1998 Memorial Cup champion team, appears to be a good bet to break Alexei Yashin's club record of 44 goals and a chance to reach the 50-goal barrier.
As for winning the NHL scoring title, 'there is still quite a bit (of season) left, and I am more focused on us winning each game,' Hossa told the Ottawa Sun. 'Maybe where there are five games left, I will follow the leader board closer, but not right now.'
• Another scoring star off the '97-98 Hawks, Josh Green, is having a rougher go in the NHL. Green, you might remember, signed a pro contract after scoring 26 goals in Portland's first 26 games. But Green, 26, has bounced around and is now with Washington, his fifth NHL team. Green has a goal and four assists in 36 games.
• Baker Dunleavy, middle son of former Trail Blazer coach Mike Dunleavy, is a walk-on redshirt freshman at Villanova. Baker, who played at Jesuit High, has grown to 6-6.
'They are pleased with him,' his father says. 'They think he has potential.'
The senior Dunleavy is a television analyst for selected San Antonio games and is living in Fort Worth, Texas, awaiting another opportunity to coach. Three jobs that could pop up by the end of the season might interest him: Memphis, Cleveland and the L.A. Clippers.
• While Boise State's football coach, Dan Hawkins, was hogging headlines in Oregon this week, two others with Oregon connections quietly were going about their business running the Broncos' basketball program.
Greg Graham, a former Oregon player and coach, is in his first year as Boise State's head coach, and his right-hand man is Andy McClouskey, the Lebanon native who played and coached at Oregon State.
'Greg wears the blue, and I get to wear the orange,' says McClouskey, 44, an assistant at Nevada-Reno the previous three seasons.
With only one senior, the Broncos are 10-13 overall and 4-9 in Western Athletic Conference action going into Saturday's home date with Texas-El Paso.
'Greg is a terrific X's and O's guy,' McClouskey says of Graham, an assistant to Oregon coach Ernie Kent the last 10 years. 'Not that Ernie isn't a great coach, but I think the Ducks miss Greg.'
Help is on the way for the Broncos. Among those in waiting are 6-3 redshirt freshman Coby Karl, George Karl's son.
'Coby is immature physically, but he could develop into a good one,' McClouskey says. 'He reminds me of Brent Barry at that stage.'
•ÊIf Tonya Harding's on-again, off-again fight with Samantha Browning comes off Saturday night in Memphis, she will be ready for her pro debut. 'We are ready to rock and roll,' says her trainer, Jeff Hargis.
At 21, Browning is much younger than Harding, 32. And, at 5-4 and 120, Browning is three inches taller and thinner than her opponent. Like many others, Browning wonders if Harding will make weight.
'She most definitely looks like she weighs over the (120-pound) limit,' Browning says. 'If she doesn't make weight, I will have to decide if I want to go through with the fight. I will probably just make them pay me more per pound.'
Harding says she weighed 105-108 pounds when she was a champion figure skater and will be close to 120 for the bout. 'I just ate a bunch of carbohydrates, which was great, to help gain some weight. I did not lift weights at all,' she says. 'I am in absolutely the best shape of my life. Physically and mentally, I have never felt better.'