Those hoping for a little more closure in the Mark McGwire story may be disappointed with his appearance at the St. Louis Cardinals annual Winter Warm-Up. McGwire received a minute-long standing ovation from the fans but evaded questions regarding his steroid use.
The ballroom that housed the main stage was standing room only as fans anxiously awaited McGwire’s first public appearance since being named the team’s newest hitting coach. As he did when he was one of the most feared hitters in all of baseball, McGwire strolled to the stage with Guns N’ Roses “Welcome to the Jungle” playing in the background.
Cardinals’ play-by-play announcer John Rooney led the question-and-answer session with Big Mac who seemed in good spirits but the tremble in his voice was evident.
McGwire let it be known up front that “steroids are bad” and told all in attendance that “I made a huge mistake.” He reminded all that steroids are illegal.
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Reminiscent of what Brendan Ryan said yesterday, McGwire believes that if the hitters take 1% of what he is teaching, they will be better. He wants to stress to his hitters that the mind is the most powerful tool of the body to tap into.
When asked what the reaction might be from fans when the team is on the road, he added that it is “yet to be determined.” But he did joke that it might get more people out to see the Cardinals play.
McGwire then took time to sign a few autographs before heading off to face the media.
As the media settled into the overcrowded press room, the team threw a last minute monkey wrench into the anticipated presser. Instead of having it in the designated press room, the session was moved out into the hallway.
The anticipation was much greater than the length of the conference itself. Lasting only six minutes, Big Mac admitted that his steroid use was the “biggest regret of my life.”
When asked about comments from former teammate Jose Canseco that McGwire was not telling the truth and whether if he were being honest when he said he did not know the names of the steroids he injected, a reporter cited a list of those he was accused of injecting.
"Those names, yeah, I'm familiar with them but, like I said, I'm not going to go down that road with Jose," McGwire replied. "I'll take the high road with Jose."
McGwire also renforced that manager Tony La Russa did not know anything of his steroid use. "Absolutely. Tony La Russa? I kept this to myself," he said. "I spoke from my heart and I spoke honestly (Monday night with Bob Costas).”
Before being escorted quickly out a back door, McGwire closed, “I hope you all can accept this and let's all move on from this. Baseball is great right now, baseball is better and let's just all move on."
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