Jack Clark was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals from 1985 through 1987 and has a new radio show on St. Louis' AM dial. In his first week on the air, he's accused Albert Pujols (along with Justin Verlander and Shawn Green) of using steroids.
Typically, if you want reasonable, intelligent sports talk, you shy away from the local AM radio shows. Clark says he has a reliable source, though — former Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach and Pujols personal trainer Chris Mihlfeld. Clark referenced a conversation he had with Mihlfeld 12 years ago, saying Milhfeld told him he "worked [Pujols] out, shot him up, all that stuff." Clark expanded on his comments about his early-2000s talks with Mihlfeld in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"He just told me that he wanted me to get started on steroids and he had some other guys that were doing it. He told me that’s how he’s conditioning this guy that he met out of high school and college and he looked like he was going to be a star, keep an eye on him."
Clark said he was looking for a nutrition program, not steroids.
"He told me, 'Well you couldn’t do what I do with Albert Pujols, he’s on this real strenuous workout deal.’ I said, ‘I wouldn’t want to try to do that.' Every day he kind of came to me and says, 'you ready to do it? I’m ready to do it.' I said, 'Well I’m just not a needle guy, I’ve had enough surgeries and injuries over the years. I don’t like needles … I’m not going to do that … I’m not a player anymore.'"
Mihlfeld has known Pujols since his days in community college, and if you forgot, was basically 2006's version of Tony Bosch when his name came up as Jason Grimsley's personal trainer. At the time it was suspected he was the trainer named in Grimsley's Mitchell Report affidavit, but he was eventually cleared when the trainer in question turned out to be Brian McNamee. A few suspicions arose at the time in regards to Mihlfeld's connection to Pujols, but those concerns eventually faded and Pujols continued to put up Hall of Fame numbers.
Clark stresses he's just working off of what Mihlfeld told him a dozen years ago, and that he never saw Pujols get injected with anything. Mihlfeld denies supplying Pujols with anything, and says he'd "bet his life" that Pujols has never used. With all due respect to Mihlfeld, this probably isn't the best year to be making hypothetical bets on an athlete's rumored drug use. Just ask Aaron Rodgers.
While the Pujols/Mihlfeld accusations aren't really anything new, Clark didn't stop there. When talking about players experiencing dips in performance after getting paid, he basically straight-up accused Justin Verlander of steroid use:
"Verlander was like Nolan Ryan, he threw 97, 98, 100 miles an hour from the first inning to the ninth inning,” Clark said on the air. “He got that big contract, now he can barely reach 92, 93. What happened to it? He has no arm problems, nothing’s wrong. It’s just the signs are there.
"The greed … they juice up, they grab the money and it’s just a free pass to steal is the way I look at it."
Verlander's velocity is down this season (his fastball is averaging 93.9 mph), but it's been trending downward since a career high of 95.6 in 2009, gradually losing a few ticks each year. It's just a bizarre accusation for Clark to throw out there, and one that may make you think twice about believing what he has to say about Pujols. There are dozens of pitchers that see a velocity dropoff every year. It doesn't mean they're off their steroid regimen. It means they're pitchers who have thrown a lot of innings.
In the end, Clark has a radio show in a city that still feels spurned by Pujols, willing to drink up every last drop of schadenfreude they can get their hands on. Rumors like this — based on conversations that happened over a decade ago — serve as red meat to those who are still sore about Pujols leaving, and get people talking about a talk show that's just starting up.