OAKLAND (CBS / AP) — Jose Canseco refuses to go down looking.
The 47-year-old former major league slugger still wants to play professional baseball in 2012. Canseco, once a feared Bash Brother for the Oakland A’s, is willing to return to the independent league to keep his career alive. He’d still like to sign with a team in the Mexican league, even though it suspended him earlier this month after allegedly refusing to undergo a doping test.
How’s this for a wild card: Canseco says if there’s a Major League Baseball team willing to take a risk on him, he can still hit 30 to 40 home runs this season.
“I’ve got plenty of power,” he said Tuesday by phone from Las Vegas.
Canseco showed flashes of it last season as a player/manager for the Yuma Scorpions of the North American League.
The former AL MVP hoped he had a deal to play this season for the Quintana Roo Tigers. Mexican league president Plinio Escalante claimed Canseco refused to take the test, which was treated the same as testing positive in the league. Quintana Roo Tigers team president Cuauhtemoc Rodriguez said doping control doctors advised Canseco against taking the test because he was using a medicine to produce testosterone.
Canseco, who last played for the Chicago White Sox in 2001, said he needed a prescription for testosterone treatment for the last five or six years. Canseco was shown using testosterone-boosting gels in the 2008 A&E documentary, “Jose Canseco: The Last Shot.”
“I think the whole world knows I’ve been on testosterone therapy,” Canseco said. “My levels are normal for what the 47-year-old levels are. They didn’t want to accept that, I guess.”
Canseco, of course, has long admitted using steroids. In Canseco’s 2005 book, “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big,” he claimed he introduced Oakland Athletics teammate Mark McGwire and other stars to steroids and performance-enhancing drugs. He wrote about injecting himself and McGwire in bathroom stalls, and how the effects of the drugs were the reason he hit 462 career home runs.
Canseco still has mixed emotions about writing the book.
“I do in a way, because I suffered a lot,” he said. “My family suffered a lot. I’m still suffering because of it. I can’t get a job in Major League Baseball managing, coaching, whatever. I paid the price to tell the truth. But if it fixed the game, if it saved a kid’s life along the way, it’s worth it. It’s a constant back and forth battle.
“When you look at it, in the big picture, it did fix Major League Baseball. It did correct everything. I believe there is no more steroid use in baseball. It changed the game, for the better.”
Canseco used his very active Twitter account to reach out and apologize to his former manager, Tony La Russa. On March 8, Canseco posted, “@TonyLaRussa boy did I mess up by writing that book tell big mac i am sorry.”
La Russa retired over the winter after winning the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals. McGwire, 10th on the career home run list with 583, is their hitting coach. He was hired after the 2009 season, and the following January he admitted using steroids when he was a player.
Canseco doesn’t expect either man to accept his apology.
“No, they’re not supposed to call me,” he said. “They can’t call me. I’m like the leper or the pariah. No one from Major League Baseball can even talk to me because I told the truth and fixed the game.”
Canseco said there are “couple of years” left in his bat, even his legs can no longer produce the 40-40 speed he had once. Canseco once claimed to have squandered the roughly $45 million he earned over his career, pawned his World Series rings and purged his memorabilia collection to try and satisfy debts against him. But he said he’s driven to play by his love of the game, not money.
“There’s no reason to give up when you love the game,” he said. “Believe me, you don’t make money playing this stuff. You don’t make money playing independent baseball. They pay nothing. I can make more money not playing baseball than playing baseball.”
If he strikes out in his bid for a baseball comeback, Canseco would like to manage, in any league.
“I have so much information, so much knowledge of the game,” he said.
He has kept his name in the spotlight the last few seasons with celebrity boxing matches, an MMA bout, reality TV, and he even competed on Donald Trump’s television show, “The Celebrity Apprentice.” He recently called out former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal on Twitter to fight him in an MMA-style bout. He says O’Neal is open to the fight and believes it could be the next big thing in a post-MLB career stuffed with the wild and wacky to keep afloat.
Canseco even cut short an interview because he had just parked at a Las Vegas gym to train.
“I’m about to work out,” he said. “I need to gain 30 pounds if I’m going to fight Shaq.”
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