In his seventh season as a pro in 1994, Tim Laker's hitting finally picked up, according to The Los Angeles Times.
He'd already seen time in two major league seasons, and he was looking for more.
"I'm just finally really learning how to hit," Laker told The Times. "I'm getting a better understanding of what I'm doing instead of going up to the plate and just swinging."
Laker would soon learn how to do something else, something he would come to regret.
The next year, he told investigators in the 2007 Mitchell Report, he learned how to inject himself with steroids and do so off and on over the course of six seasons.
"I'm not in a position to give my opinion on anybody," Laker told The Associated Press in March 2008, more than two months after the report's release. "I just have to focus on what I do and my own regrets."
Laker's career began in 1988, taken by the Expos in the sixth round of the draft, out of Oxnard College in California.
Laker started at short-season Jamestown. He played 1990 at single-A Rockford, then 1992 at AA Harrisburg.
In August 1992, he made the jump to Montreal. He got into 28 games, hitting .217. He then returned to Montreal for another 43 games in 1993, hitting .198.
He spent 1994 at AAA Ottawa, returning to the Expos for 64 games in 1995. In an August 1995 game, Laker hit a ninth-inning, game-winning home run against the Phillies.
"I thought it was gone," Laker told The Allentown Morning Call afterward. "Then I saw Andy VanSlyke go after it and I got a little nervous. I didn't want to look like an idiot if it hit the fence, so I started running. I was lucky it went out."
That home run also came in the season where Laker first tried steroids. He did so after first researching it himself.
"Laker ultimately was convinced that using steroids would 'enhance [his] performance,'" the report reads.
Laker was introduced to Kirk Radomski by teammate David Segui. Laker told Mitchell investigators he purchased enough for two cycles. In all, Laker made four purchases from Radomski, taking his steroid use into the 2000 season.
During that stretch, Laker only saw time in 30 major league games with the Orioles, Devil Rays and Pirates. He was injured all of 1996.
The catcher then returned to the majors for 16 games in 2001, then 52 games in 2003 and 44 in 2004, all with Cleveland. Laker didn't play his final major league game until 2006.
"What I try to do is do things to keep myself as sharp as I can," Laker told his hometown Simi Valley Acorn in 2004. "It's hard not getting in there every day. I’m getting up there a little older. It's taking a little more effort than it used to to stay in shape. I still like what I’m doing so that motivates me."
Laker has since turned to coaching. He spoke to the Mitchell investigators in 2007 as a manager in the Indians organization. In 2013, he served as minor league hitting coordinator for the White Sox.
- Los Angeles Times, July 9, 1994: Laker Found Stroke After Finding Home
- Allentown Morning Call, Aug. 14, 1995: Expos Fan Bottalico's Heat 3-2
- Simi Valley Acorn, Sept. 10, 2004: Simi graduate turned major league journeyman finds home in Cleveland
- Mitchell Report, 2007: Pages 159-161
- ESPN.com, Associated Press, March 2, 2008: Former Indians catcher Tim Laker talks about steroid past