|Tony LaRussa on McGwire Admission||01.11.10 at 6:10 pm ET|
Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa, who managed Mark McGwire for most of the slugger’s career and remained adamant over the years that the former single-season record holder for homers had not used steroids, spoke with ESPN’s Baseball Tonight on Monday about his former player’s admission that he had used steroids throughout his career. Courtesy of ESPN, here are some excerpts of the interview.
LaRussa, on his reaction to today’s news:
“I didn’t know anything except that I knew we ran a legit program and that Mark was a good example of working his butt off and getting his strength gains as a product of hard work. I did, and still speak to his character and integrity.”
LaRussa, on his current perspective regarding McGwire as a hitting instructor and his integrity:
“I think, as the entire circumstances come out of his usage – why, when, where – I think he’ll come off and regain a lot of stature that he had with fans and with his peers about being a solid pro…he admits he made mistakes and he’s sorry for it. We all make mistakes and at least he owns up to it.
“He got so much criticism about his performance in (front of) Congress. One thing he did not do is lie, and I don’t think he ever would.”
|Curt Schilling Discusses McGwire on The Big Show||01.11.10 at 5:06 pm ET|
Retired pitcher Curt Schilling checked in with The Big Show to discuss Mark McGwire’s admission that he used steroids starting in 1989, including during the 1998 season in which he set the home run record. To listen to the complete interview, click here. A transcript is below.
What’s your take on McGwire and how he handled this?
I think he’s the first guy to come real clean – legitimately clean. No more, ‘Well, I did it once and I never did it again.’ I think everyone knew to some degree. But until you had your word, like everything else, it was speculation. I’m glad. I’m glad he did it.
Do you think this plays well with fans? He went into detail.
It seems like everybody else lies about it, then they lie about the lies. I always feel like any time you hear guys talk about stuff like this, there’s 10 times the stuff that you don’t know. He said he used it on and off throughout the ‘90s. I’m probably pretty sure, based on playing against him, looking at him, the way he was the entire decade, he probably used the entire decade. Why wouldn’t you if you got the results he did from them?
Players probably chuckled when he said he wasn’t using steroids.
The ones that weren’t doing it with him, I’m sure.
Jose Canseco was another player who came completely clean.
Yeah, but he’s disgusting.
At the Congressional hearing, McGwire said that because lawyers told him to say that he should say what he did about not addressing the past. You said it’s a lot different under oath. Were you advised by attorneys?
The quotes that got me subpoenaed were locker-room chatter, grab-ass stuff that you do on a daily basis. In front of Congress, you’re under oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If you’re going to put a name out there, you’re going to end someone’s career and ruin someone’s life. Having not seen anyone inject themselves, anything I would have done, anyone I would have named would have been speculation. I certainly wasn’t going to get myself in trouble or get anyone else in trouble without a 100 percent guarantee of the fact that it’s true.
You’re guarded in the way you say things if you’re trying to hide or cover up. I didn’t know. I never knew. Everyone railed on me about clamming up. There was nothing for me to say. The comments that I’d been quoted on were the comments you made on a daily basis in the clubhouse when you were shooting the bull.
Half of it is crap. You speculate. You talk. Over the course of a nine-month season, a lot of people say a lot of things that are hyperbole and blown out of proportion. It was a common topic for a long period of time. I spent 10 years defending Roger Clemens – the only guy in the clubhouse defending Roger Clemens.
Does this put pressure on other guys to come forward (aside from Clemens and Bonds, given their perjury cases)?
He told the story we’re expecting to hear from everyone else who got caught. That’s the story. That really is the only defense, unless you were a guy who went to a legitimate doctor and got a legitimate prescription for extreme cases where steroids are prescribed. If you don’t’ come out and do what he did, then everybody is going, ‘Well, what else don’t we know?’
How do you think it plays out in the public and with Hall of Fame voters?
Knowing what I know about Mark McGwire, I don’t think he cares about either one. I think he wants to come back and coach and be on the baseball field, be in the clubhouse, be in the environment again. I don’t think he gives two wits about what guys say and write. I really don’t. He never was a guy who was motivated by that stuff.
I always looked at him kind of like I looked at Barry. You were one of the best ever, and you had to cheat to be better? I don’t get that.
Will this change the minds of voters? Will there be forgiveness in the public eye?
I love Mark and I think the world of Mark. I’ve known him for quite a long time. I don’t mean any disrespect, but I’m not sure he’s a Hall of Famer anyway. He hit a lot of homers for a lot of years and that’s all he did. I’m not belittling that, but the Hall of Fame is for the best of the best. He was never a guy, I don’t know. I think it will change, and he will end up getting a pass.
But there’s a line that, once it’s crossed, you can never go back. When that first player – that Palmeiro or Bonds goes in – then no one can ever use the steroid defense again, I don’t think.
Now that he’s admitted to use from the late-‘80s on, his greatness was based on his power. We now know he got the power from PEDs.
I think he was a naturally huge guy anyway. I think he always had a lot of power. But I’ve always argued, and football players can probably give me a better response than other people, I’ve never looked at steroids as the motivation for guys to use them to get huge biceps.
In baseball, I always looked at steroids, the motivation being to recover faster and to be fresher. Everyone that talks about them talks about the downtime being smaller and less, and you feel fresh for the entire season. I would argue that gives you an enormous advantage over me on Sept. 1, when I’m pitching against you and I’m dragging ass and it’s six months into the season, and you’re showing up like it’s the first day of spring training.
To me, it wasn’t the biceps and triceps. It was the bat speed. To me, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds were game-fresh, April-fresh on Sept. 1, that gave them a huge advantage in my mind.
We all talked about this – all the freak injuries. It wasn’t a pulled hammy or a strained quad. It’s that everybody talks about the fact that steroids overstretch your body. You break joints. You tear ligaments in unusual or odd places. You look at all the guys over the last 10 years who we said, ‘Hmmm, that’s kind of weird.’ You do freakish things to yourself from an injury standpoint. And people go, ‘Wow – that’s odd. That’s weird. How do you do something like that?’
How’d you get your body without steroids?
I always tell people this is not a real athletic body – it’s a cruel family joke.
If McGwire’s motivation is to be back on the field, he was only going to be able to do this with a confession. We were trying to figure out how he’d do this. Now, he’s answered all the questions.
He did it perfectly. Other than admitting it five years ago, he did it perfectly. If I’m him, I sit there in spring training on that first day, and I say, ‘You’ve got 60 minutes. I’ll answer every non-baseball question you want to ask me, and I won’t answer another one the entire season.’ He’s already answered everything you could want to ask him anyway. What else are you going to ask him? Who else do you know? He’s not going to answer that. He’s not going to throw other people under the bus.
It just reeks of honesty. He came clean, because I think he realized, I’m going to be in that environment, 24/7, for nine months of the year. I’m not going to give anyone an angle. I think he made the admission that we all wish everybody had made when they got caught, instead of the, ‘Well, you know, I was trying to come back from injury and I only did it one time and it was my dad’s.’
If he gets positive treatment – after being a pariah – might more guys decide to confess?
The guys that don’t stand to get prison time, yes.
Giambi was accepted even though he never went into detail.
Another piece to this – don’t discount this – a lot of it has to deal with the people you’re dealing with. Everything I knew and have heard since about Barry, he was someone who was absolutely just a bad person.
To me, I always judge teammates on how they acted and interacted with non-uniform personnel, clubhouse kids, trainers and stuff. I’ve heard in the last couple years that Bonds was the worst ever at it and Clemens was not really cool about it. To me, that says more about you than anything else – how you treat the quote-unquote little guy.
Jason Giambi is the world’s nicest guy. McGwire, really nice guy, those guys are going to get, I think, different treatment because they’re different people. They’re kind people.
I’ve heard things that [Bonds] has said and done. I knew Barry. I was friends with Barry. We had the same agent coming up, when I was coming up. I saw him say things and do things to people that I sat back and said, ‘Wow.’
A lot of people cited race in how Bonds was treated by the media, yet Clemens got the same treatment.
[Bonds] treated people like crap, and half the time the race card was the card he played.
Clemens is in this until the end. What’s he thinking? If he’s clean, he’s a Hall of Famer.
I don’t think anybody on this planet thinks he’s clean. I don’t. And he was a guy who was instrumental in turning my career around. The lecture and speech I got from him was about hard work and dedication, passion, integrity, ethics, and all this other stuff. Then I come to find that it’s a lot of crap.
You can take steroids and still have a good work ethic.
Absolutely. That’s the thing about those guys. A-Rod and Bonds, those guys had unbelievable workout regimens that took it to another level. At the end of the day, it’s disappointing. It’s frustrating.
In a sense, I’m kind of like Pedro. I look back on what I did and the era I did it in, and I’m probably a little bit prouder of the fact that I did it the way I did it when all was said and done, and to think that I was competing against guys who were cheating, and probably a lot more than I knew.
At the end of the day, I got three rings. I don’t think steroids changed the amount of rings I got in my career, which is all I really care about.
|Sox Announce Rookie Development Program Details||01.11.10 at 12:43 pm ET|
The Red Sox’ Rookie Development Program, which helps to prepare players who could be in line for promotions to the major leagues within a 12- to 18-month timeframe, began today. The two-week program offers top Red Sox minor leaguers the opportunity to work with members of the major-league coaching staff, to work on strength and conditioning as well as fundamentals, and a chance to become familiar with such details as the layout of the clubhouse at Fenway Park.
The release — which also includes details of an autograph session with the prospects — is below. For a closer look at the program participants, click here. Josh Reddick — who also took part in the program last year — was added to the initial roster of 11 program participants. For a closer look at the right-fielder’s path to the majors, click here.
BOSTON, MA– The Red Sox 2010 Rookie Program began today in Boston. Twelve of Boston’s top prospects are taking part in the two-week program, which is designed to expose the players to the expectations of being Major Leaguers for the Red Sox.
Eleven of the participants in the Rookie Program spent all of 2009 in the Red Sox organization: pitchers Randor Bierd, Felix Doubront, Casey Kelly, Ryne Miller, Junichi Tazawa, Kyle Weiland; catcher Luis Exposito; infielder Yamaico Navarro; and outfielders Ryan Kalish, Che-Hsuan Lin and Josh Reddick. Also taking part will be infielder Jose Iglesias, who was signed as a free agent in September 2009 and played in the Arizona Fall League.
The program includes two workouts daily that emphasize conditioning and strength training as well as concentration on fundamentals. In addition, the players are attending a number of seminars that will focus on the assimilation into Major League life off the field.
A number of individuals will speak to the group, including President/CEO Larry Lucchino, General Manager Theo Epstein, manager Terry Francona, Major League coaches John Farrell and Dave Magadan, sports psychology coach Bob Tewksbury, right-handed pitcher John Lackey, infielder Kevin Youkilis, Hall of Fame baseball writer and NESN reporter/analyst Peter Gammons, and Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers.
There will also be a public autograph signing with the Rookie Program participants at the Best Buy in the Landmark Center, located at 401 Park Drive in Boston on Monday, January 18 from 3:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Fans making a $20.00 donation to the Red Sox Foundation will be able to take part in the signing on a first come, first served basis.
|The Westmoreland Myth Is Reality||01.11.10 at 11:32 am ET|
In the aftermath of Saturday’s story about Ryan Westmoreland, the Lowell Spinners were kind enough to send along this picture of the top Red Sox prospect posing – somewhat uncomfortably – next to the wall in LeLacheur Park that put an end to his season:
Thanks to the Lowell Spinners for sending the photo via Twitter (@LowellSpinners).
|Red Sox Weren’t In On Chapman at End||01.10.10 at 9:34 pm ET|
The Aroldis Chapman sweepstakes concluded on Sunday, as multiple reports have established that the Reds will sign the Cuban left-hander to a five-year, $25 million deal that will include a club option for a sixth season. The Cuban was widely scouted as having electric stuff — an easy conclusion to draw given that his fastball registered in excess of 100 mph when he pitched at the World Baseball Classic — and as a result, the interest in the 22-year-old was widespread.
The Sox, according to a major-league source, made a concerted effort to acquire Chapman earlier this winter. The team made an offer to him in November (first reported by ESPN.com at $15.5 million — more than the record-breaking sum that No. 1 overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg received when he signed with the Nationals).
But shortly after the Sox made that offer, Chapman changed agents, from Edwin Mejia to Hendricks Sports Management. The Sox pulled their offer when Chapman changed agents, and though the club sent an evaluator to watch the pitcher at a workout in Houston in mid-December, it never made another formal offer, according to the source.
While Boston recognized Chapman’s significant potential, the team also viewed him as a very high-risk investment. As such, given that the team had some questions about the pitcher’s makeup, arm action and aptitude — a relevant concern, since multiple major-league talent evaluators suggested that Chapman may be best suited to make his professional debut in the U.S. in High-A ball, and would require significant development in order to reach the majors — the Sox did not re-engage significantly in the bidding for the Cuban defector once it became clear that other clubs were going to offer far more than what Boston believed to be the pitcher’s value point.
For a scouting report on Chapman, click here.
|Report: Matsuzaka Hid Leg Injury||01.10.10 at 10:24 am ET|
According to a translation from the Boston Globe, Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka told the Japanese magazine Friday that his struggles in 2009 stemmed from a thigh injury incurred while training for the World Baseball Classic last January. The right-hander said that he was able to pitch through the condition by taking anti-inflammatories, but that the pain was such that it was difficult for him to jog.
As a result of the injury, Matsuzaka said, he relied more on the strength of his shoulder than his legs to generate power. He did not alert trainers to the condition, he said, because he did not want to create concern about his health.
“I didn’t tell the trainers. Fortunately, I was in charge of my own training, so if it started to hurt, I could adjust to not hurt myself,” said Matsuzaka, according to the Globe’s translation. “But pitching while hiding the injury was very difficult. Even when I didn’t feel the pain, my body was holding back because it sensed the danger. So, my pitching motion was more of standing straight up and throwing with my upper body, relying on my shoulder strength more than usual.”
Matsuzaka said that when he returned to the Red Sox after the WBC, his shoulder allowed him respectable fastball velocity, but the pitch continued to lack power without the benefit of his lower body.
“After my first stint on the DL in May, I was very hard on myself. Because I got plenty of rest, my shoulder was much stronger, so I could still get up there in velocity. But I couldn’t use my lower body well, and I could not use my full body to generate the power. My fastball was not effective, therefore I lost effectiveness of my other pitches,” he was quoted as saying. “In hindsight, it was impossible to continue faking the whole season, it was too much mental stress. But the Red Sox struggled a little bit in the beginning of the season so I wanted to help the team as much as I could.”
Matsuzaka went on to say that his improvement upon his return to the rotation in September was the byproduct of his thigh injury having healed, rather than the loss of weight. He also noted his gratitude that the team has now said that he can resume extended bullpen sessions between starts so long as shoulder strength tests indicate that he is fit for such an undertaking.
The pitcher concluded that he will try to make amends for his lost 2009 major-league season with a return to effectiveness in the coming year.
“I assure you that the (2010) season will be a great season. I am going to redeem what I lost in 2009,” the Globe quotes Matsuzaka as saying. “With my health back, I am confident and determined to produce this year. I will (try my best to) become world champion once again.”
Matsuzaka and the Red Sox clashed over the pitcher’s training methods during the past season, especially in the aftermath of the pitcher’s pronounced displeasure with the team’s program. But in the aftermath of that incident, the two sides had candid conversations that led to what was viewed as a mutual understanding about how to proceed going forward.
Matsuzaka has been working at Athletes’ Performance in Arizona to ensure that he is in top shape for the coming year. Agent Scott Boras acknowledged on Friday that the transition to Major League Baseball has not been without its challenges, but that, in the aftermath of the conversations that the pitcher had with the Sox last year, he is trying to adopt routines that will permit him to reproduce his success in the U.S.
“Daisuke is a major star in Japan. To come here and to take on the major leagues and the difference of it took time,” said Boras. “This year, he’s just making every effort now to make the transition to fit more than he has.”
|Westmoreland: ‘I Left My Mark’||01.09.10 at 2:06 pm ET|
It was the sort of story that takes on the life of an urban legend. Ryan Westmoreland’s season came – quite literally – to a crashing halt when he broke his left clavicle while running into the outfield wall in Lowell.
The injury, which took place in the early days of September, required season-ending surgery, from which Westmoreland is expected to make a full recovery. The outfielder hopes that the injury will soon be forgotten.
Even so, the crash that caused it is unlikely to disappear from memory anytime soon. That is inevitable, given the accounts (disputed by some) that suggested that Westmoreland ran through the fence in left-center at LeLacheur Park in Lowell while making a phenomenal grab.
“I ran into the wall. I was out cold, so I don’t remember if I ran through it,” said Westmoreland, who was in Boston on Saturday for the New Stars for Young Stars event, a fundraiser for the Jimmy Fund that introduces minor-leaguers to Red Sox fans. “But the next day I went out there and there was a hole in the left-field wall, and it was right around where I hit. I kind of put it together. I left my mark, I guess you could say.”
Yes, he hears references to “The Natural” with frequency. Even so, Westmoreland has no interest in being known as the next Bump Bailey (a character in the Natural whose death while running through a wall opened the door for Roy Hobbs, or Rodney McCray, the minor leaguer who became famous for running through a wall preceding an undistinguished big-league career in which he had just 15 plate appearances.
Towards that end, Westmoreland has been very pleased with the course of his rehab, in which he’s been strengthening both shoulders (his left for this year’s broken clavicle, and his right as he is 14 months removed from surgery to repair his labrum). Next week, he will head to Fort Myers to continue his rehab and begin baseball activities. He anticipates no limitations by the start of the season.
“Everything feels really good,” Westmoreland said. “I should be 100 percent by spring training.”
There, Westmoreland hopes to build on what was a phenomenal first full professional season. He hit .296 with a .401 OBP, .484 slugging mark, .885 OPS, seven homers and 19 steals without getting caught once. Given the weather-induced limits of playing high-school ball in New England, the Rhode Island native was pleasantly surprised by how he was able to handle both an expanded schedule and a higher level of competition than what he’d experienced as an amateur.
“I never really knew how to play everyday. A 75-game schedule is a lot different than a 20-game schedule in high school. The first couple weeks were tough physically, mentally trying to keep myself there. But I think I settled in the last three-quarters of the season,” said Westmoreland. “The first week or so of the season, I was kind of nervous. I’d never really seen college pitchers. But I think I adjusted and ended up putting up pretty good numbers. It was really motivating for me knowing that I could compete at that level.”
The accolades were far reaching. Scouts and talent evaluators raved about him, suggesting that his far-reaching skill set — an advanced plate approach and knowledge of the strike zone, power, speed in both the outfield and on the bases, good routes and a strong arm — bore some resemblance to that of a superstar centerfielder like Grady Sizemore. He was named the top prospect in the Red Sox system by Baseball America.
“It’s a great honor,” said Westmoreland, “but it really doesn’t mean anything unless I produce.”
Naturally, such hype made it inevitable that his name would emerge in trade rumors. There is little doubt, after all, that other teams would love to acquire such a player. He has already heard his name brought up in trade rumors for players such as Roy Halladay and Adrian Gonzalez.
Westmoreland — who grew up rooting for the Red Sox — would like to remain in the organization. But he recognizes that little good can come of concerning himself with trade rumors.
“It would be great to get to Boston because I’ve been a Red Sox fan my whole life. It would definitely be a special experience. At the same time, I’m still fighting for a spot. Being from New England doesn’t help me in any way or hurt me,” said Westmoreland. “Really, I don’t deal with [rumors]. I kind of just let it happen. I get text messages and calls all the time, and I just say, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen.’ I just tried to focus on the offseason, get stronger. If something happens, it happens. I try to block all that stuff out, because if I let it get to me, especially if it’s in the season, it’s going to affect the way I play. That’s exactly not what I want to do.”
Instead, Westmoreland is focused on the 2010 season, which will offer him his first experience with a full-season affiliate. He will play in Single-A, away from home, most likely in Greenville of the South Atlantic League. It is a challenge that the 19-year-old takes seriously.
“This is going to be my first full season. That’s going to be a big thing,” said Westmoreland. “I’m really looking for it. This season, 70 games was long for me, but I think I’m ready. I’ve been preparing all offseason because I know I’m probably going to get in a full-season situation. I’ve been trying to prepare myself physically and mentally.”
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