ARLINGTON, Tex. — Pitcher Steve Howe, who has been suspended from baseball five times since 1983 because of cocaine use, was given his release by Texas Sunday because the Rangers said he failed to comply with his drug recovery program.
Ranger General Manager Tom Grieve would not say whether the team had evidence of drug use by Howe but said the violation was a serious one.
"We are deeply saddened for Steve Howe and his family that he has been unable to abide by the requirements of his after-care program," Grieve said in a statement. "The Rangers signed Steve Howe last July because we believed he had demonstrated a strong commitment to his own recovery, and we felt an obligation to give him the chance to turn his life around and resume his baseball career. We are saddened that it did not work out."
Grieve later said Howe failed to show up at a voluntary workout Wednesday, but that was not the reason for his dismissal.
"Sometime between Wednesday and now, a violation of his after-care program occurred," Grieve told United Press International. "It was a severe violation, and based on the integrity of the contract we signed with him, we were forced to make this decision. He made the decision to violate the after-care program. . . . It was a serious violation."
The Rangers signed Howe July 12, 1987, to a contract with their minor league team in Oklahoma City. After owner Eddie Chiles called him up Aug. 6 without the approval of Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, the team was fined the maximum $250,000.
Howe was 3-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 24 games with the Rangers last year and signed a guaranteed two-year contract with the team Oct. 29. His career major league record is 29-31 with a 2.70 ERA in 266 games.
Howe, 29, won the National League's rookie of the year award in 1980 with the Dodgers and first admitted drug problems in 1982, when he spent five weeks at a drug rehabilitation center. He was twice suspended by the Dodgers in 1983 and suspended for the 1984 season by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn for substance abuse.
He returned to the Dodgers in 1985, was suspended for missing a game and was released by the club, later signing with the Minnesota Twins. After admitting a relapse into drug use, he was released by the Twins in September 1985. The next season he played minor-league baseball and was suspended twice, the last time for failing a drug test.