Former Tiger Nook Logan still hurt over PEDs

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DETROIT – The latest baseball performance enhancing drug scandal has touched many, including the Tigers who lost starting shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a 50-game suspension.

But Peralta wasn't the first Tiger linked to PEDs.

Enter former centerfielder Nook Logan.

Logan never wanted to hit more home runs.

It wasn't his game. The former Major League Baseball centerfielder played defense,  stole bases and scored runs.

Yet, in November 2005, Logan took performance enhancing drugs.

The HGH he took for two weeks wasn't to make him a better player, but to help his injured right elbow feel better.

"In those two weeks, it was just something that kept me fresh," Logan said. "None of that stuff improves your ability as a ballplayer."

Nonetheless, it was a mistake, one that cost Logan both his career and livelihood. It's been a long and painful six years since he wore a big league uniform.

The latest PED scandal -- which netted 13 players, including superstars Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez -- hit Logan hard. He could definitely feel the pain.

In 2007, Logan -- a third round pick by the Detroit Tigers in 2000 -- was named in the Mitchell Report, a 409-page document that listed 89 players that used PEDs on Dec. 13, 2007.

Logan knows what it feels like to have your spot blown up with all eyes are on you and many calling you a cheater.

It's a day he'll never forget. "I saw my mom's face when my name went across the TV screen," Logan said. "It made me feel bad for what I did.

But for the reasons that I did it, I didn't feel any remorse about it."

That's because Logan believes he took the stuff without malice. First, HGH wasn't a banned substance in MLB when he took it. In fact, at the time, it wasn't considered a steroid. That's why the sport didn't even test for it.

Secondly, his intent wasn't to cheat, but improve his health.

"At the time, I knew anything involving a needle and not prescribed by a doctor may be a little sketchy," Logan said. "We had meeting about different drugs and stuff in baseball and HGH was never mentioned. It was considered a steroid.

"I didn't think people used it to get a competitive advantage."

Since 2006, MLB has added HGH as a banned substance and currently is the only American sports league that tests its players for HGH.

Still, many sports fans believe players use it to make themselves into stars. Logan wasn't trying to go from one homer in 2005 with the Tigers to 50 in 2006 with the Washington Nationals in hopes of landing a big free-agent contract.

"In my head, I believed the older I got, the more power was going to come," said Logan, who hit just two homers in his four-year big league career. "I wasn't even worried about it. I just thought it would come naturally.

"I never thought about hitting home runs, I just thought about ways to improve the game I played."

Even so, there's a stigma with PEDs. "With all that being said, every day I regret what I did but I don't question why I did it," Logan said. "It hurt me. I felt I let some people down. But I really didn't because I didn't use it to play the game.

"Everybody I talked to understood why I went there and where I was going and what I was trying to do."

Still, it cost him the prime of his career.

In 2008, Logan was in camp with the Los Angeles Dodgers. But it was clear he never really had a shot to make the team, which already had a crowded outfield in spring training. "It bothered me to watch other Mitchell Report guys continue to get major league jobs and especially right across the street from you in the same camp," Logan said.

Logan can't prove he's been blackballed out of the game, but it certainly appears that way. Others that have been caught up in this ongoing scandal continued to play, but not him.

Logan, just 33, hasn't played in six years. Those years, normally are the best a player has to offer in a career.

"I think about it every day," Logan said. "I didn't get to play in the prime of my career because people think what I was doing was on the field was because of something I took.

"I want to make it clear. It was something I took, not something I was on. I didn't need that to play baseball." 

Logan -- an 80% base stealer and top defensive outfielder at the time -- said he didn't need some advantage to play the game he's been playing since a kid.

 "I felt nothing I ever did was to cheat the game," he said. "I would never cheat the game."

It's the game Logan loves and yearns to still play at the highest level. He still works out, often two times a day. He still has his speed. In fact, Logan ran a 6.4, 60-yard dash on his 33 birthday this year for the Milwaukee Brewers in a private tryout.

"I won't give up on it," said Logan about his dream to play again. "It looks bleak sometimes.

"I still have way too much ability and fire."