Bechler, 23, dies day after collapsing in heat
Monday, February 17
ESPN.com news services
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler died Monday morning, less than 24 hours after complaining of dizziness during a workout.
Team officials said Bechler was declared dead at 10:10 a.m. ET.
Bechler, 23, spent the night in the intensive care unit at Northridge Medical Center. He was pale and feeling lightheaded Sunday while completing his final conditioning run on a back field at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, and he was taken from the complex by ambulance.
The initial diagnosis was heat exhaustion and dehydration, but his condition worsened after he arrived at the hospital.
Teammates were updated on Bechler's condition during a clubhouse meeting before taking the field for Monday's workout. They were summoned inside at 10:30 a.m. and told of his death.
Bechler made his major league debut last year, going 0-0 with a 13.50 ERA in three relief appearances. He was expected to begin this season with the club's new Triple-A affiliate in Ottawa.
Bechler was chosen in the third round of the 1998 draft out of South Medford High School in Oregon. He spent most of last season at Triple-A Rochester, going 6-11 with a 4.09 ERA in 24 starts.
Called up to the majors late in the year, he made his debut Sept. 6 against the Anaheim Angels.
Two players told the Baltimore Sun they saw Bechler collapse in the grass as he attempted to complete the run. Temperatures in Fort Lauderdale in the early afternoon reached 81 degrees, with 70 percent humidity.
"He was really, really incoherent," said pitcher Matt Riley. "He was finishing the run and fell down."
The Orioles coaching staff has divided players' daily workouts into 12-minute stations, with water breaks in between. Players have been encouraged to drink plenty of fluids, especially since Minnesota Vikings lineman Korey Stringer died from heatstroke during the 2001 training camp.
Bechler arrived at camp Wednesday heavier than his listed weight of 239, and one coach questioned the amount of hours the right-hander devoted to getting in shape. He labored to complete Friday's run, which concluded the approximately three-hour workout, and was pulled off the field by manager Mike Hargrove before finishing Saturday.
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