MONTREAL -- Montreal Expos outfielder Tim Raines has beaten a costly drug habit which saw him use more than $40,000 worth of cocaine in the first nine months of 1982 and contributed to his disappointing sophomore season, a newspaper report said Saturday.
In a front-page article, the Montreal Gazette reported the 23-year-old Raines, who completed a 30-day rehabilitation program this fall and pronounced himself 'clean,' used cocaine before and after National League games, and sometimes used the drug in the team clubhouse between innings.
'Drug addiction is a disease people have, just like diabetes,' said Raines, who said he has not used any drugs or alcohol for 67 days. 'I had to have it. It was addictive. I was a cocaine user.'
The article represents Raines' first public admission of cocaine use, although he had admitted late last season that use of an unspecified drug had affected his play on the field. The Expos later issued a news release saying Raines had entered a California clinic to undergo treatment for 'chemical dependency' on an unspecified drug.
Raines, who burst on the National League with a flourish in 1981 by batting .304 and stealing nearly a base per game to set a rookie base-stealing record, saw his average fall to .277 and his rate of base-stealing drop in 1982, although his 78 steals still led the NL.
Raines admitted cocaine use was a major factor in his decline on the field.
'I was playing with a handicap,' Raines said. 'I was playing on instincts and the instincts are still there because it was still a decent year. A lot of times I got no sleep. A lot of times I couldn't even see the ball.
'That's why I'm looking forward to this year. I'm not setting any goals, just to be mentally and physically ready to play. I'm capable of doing a lot of things. I might even surprise me.'
Raines said he began using the drug back home in Sanford, Fla., after his sensational rookie season.
'During the winter I got myself involved,' he said. 'After I signed a contract, my salary went from $35,000 to $200,000 and I felt I had money to waste, right or wrong.'
The report said Raines obtained the drug in Montreal and in some other NL cities and used more than 14 ounces of cocaine in a 37-week period.
'I wasn't seeing good and I wasn't eating well,' Raines said. 'I felt I was having a problem on the field, because my average was down to .270 in late April. I was juggling the ball in the outfield. I was misreading pitches. I was striking out a lot, the first time in my career that I wasn't a contact hitter.'
Raines also missed three games last season due to cocaine use. The first time, on June 29, Expos team doctor Bob Broderick was dispatched to Raines' downtown apartment after the outfielder called in with stomach cramps and nausea. Raines had stayed up all of the previous night on cocaine.
However, Raines admitted to using the drug to Broderick, and Expos president John McHale called in a local psychiatrist to help solve the problem. McHale even drove Raines to the twice-weekly doctors appointments.
Raines said he stopped using cocaine 'pretty much' from mid-July to September, but after an argument with former manager Jim Fanning over a newspaper article in which Raines had criticized Fanning, he went back to the drug for a 'final fling.'
'There were only a few weeks left at that point. I knew I was going to get help after the season. I was serious about it. I knew my career would be coming to an end.'
A doctor at the Comprehensive Care Corp., clinic where Raines was admitted said cocaine addicts would have to spend three years off the drug before being considered sober. Raines has stayed off drugs or alcohol for 67 days and is working himself back into shape over the offseason.
'Sometimes, I still feel like doing it (cocaine),' Raines said. 'So I do something else. I'll run or listen to music. The exercise helps me out. I've been told I could have withdrawals for five months.'
Raines said he would look to all-star outfilder and teammate Andre Dawson for inspiration in the coming season.
'This year isn't going to be easy for Tim,' said Dawson, well known as a dedicated and sober family man. 'I'll try to settle him down, get him in the right frame of mind. There's no telling what's going on in his head.
'I did gather from Tim there were problems last year, but I thought they were just personal problems (Raines' wife suffered a miscarriage and a favorite uncle had died).
'It (cocaine) never came out directly, although I heard indirectly. He's real close to me and I talked to him numerous times about taking care of himself. I was always pretty serious about it, while guys like Cro (Warren Cromartie) and Rowland Office, when he was here, used to joke about it to make sure Tim was getting the message.'