By Mike Berardino
May 7, 2004
MIAMI–The sad tale of Marlins pitching prospect Jeff Allison has taken another unexpected turn for the worse.
According to two industry sources, Allison was treated over the winter for dependency on the prescription painkiller OxyContin.
The Boston Globe, citing a longtime associate of the pitcher, reported in Friday’s editions Allison that received three weeks of outpatient treatment at Faulkner Hospital in Boston.
According to one source close to the situation, Allison failed at least one drug test in recent weeks before returning home to Peabody, Mass., about 35 minutes north of Boston. Allison left the Marlins’ extended spring training camp in Jupiter last weekend.
“It’s obviously a problem,” a source said Thursday night. “It’s not good.”
Officially, the Marlins have said only that Allison, 19, has been placed on the restricted list and won’t be paid until he’s reinstated.
The club remains in sporadic contact with Allison, sources said, but no date has been set for his return. Nor has any further treatment been scheduled for the pitcher.
Attempts to reach the pitcher’s parents, Bob and Noreen, who are divorced, were unsuccessful. Friends from Massachusetts told the Globe Allison has been seen around his hometown this week at the mall and participating in wiffle ball games.
Allison, Baseball America’s 2003 High School Player of the Year, ranked 44th on BA’s 2004 Top 100 Prospects list. He was considered to have the best fastball and the best curveball in the 2003 draft.
The 16th overall pick in last year’s draft–sliding that far mainly because of signability concerns–Allison received a $1.85 million bonus. He pitched nine innings for the Marlins’ Rookie-level Gulf Coast League team last August before being shut down with tendinitis.
Before reporting to spring camp in late March, three weeks later than most minor-leaguers, Allison agreed to additional random drug testing for the next two years and accepted a restructured payout of his $1.85 million signing bonus over the next 3-4 years.
OxyContin is a time-released form of oxycodone, a strong narcotic pain reliever similar to morphine. The drug is intended for use by terminal cancer patients and chronic pain sufferers.
According to the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research website, taking OxyContin daily “can result in physical dependence, a condition in which the body shows signs of narcotic withdrawal if the OxyContin is stopped suddenly.”
The website draws a distinction between addiction, which is based on psychological need, and physical dependence, which can be treated by slowly decreasing the dosage of the drug.