The St. Louis Cardinals are still figuring out how hitting coach Mark McGwire will eventually meet with the media and whether he will end his long silence on questions about his alleged connection to performance-enhancing drugs.
General manager John Mozeliak said the team is still in the planning stages of working out how it will formally reintroduce McGwire to Cardinals fans and the media. McGwire did not attend a news conference to announce his hiring late last month.
"There is going to be a wide range of what people are hoping to hear. For me personally, we're not there yet as far as what it's going to look like," Mozeliak told reporters. "Hopefully in the next week or so we can work through that."
McGwire has remained out of the public eye since a 2005 congressional hearing on steroids, at which he famously refused to answer questions about steroid use, saying he wasn't there to talk about the past. Former Oakland Athletics teammate Jose Canseco claimed McGwire had used steroids in his book "Juiced," and former federal investigators who led the Operation Equine probe have said they had information linking McGwire to steroids.
The Cardinals know the issue is there and that it won't disappear on its own, Mozeliak said, according to the report.
"Clearly my energy is focused on players and looking at how to improve our 2010 team. Understanding that, the McGwire situation has to be recognized," Mozeliak said. "I don't have a timetable yet on when we're going to do things or how we're going to do them. But it's not something we're ignoring or hoping will go away."
The Cardinals hired McGwire as hitting coach last month, as manager Tony La Russa finally convinced the ex-slugger to end his self-imposed exile from organized baseball. While McGwire had privately worked with major league hitters including Matt Holliday during the offseason, he had declined previous invites from La Russa to attend spring training as a hitting instructor.
Mozeliak said he has not approached McGwire about a media appearance, but hopes to do so with cooperation from La Russa. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, there is some desire within the organization that McGwire make himself available before the holidays to try to put the issue to rest.
A number of commentators, noting how stars including Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte met with the media after their connections to performance-enhancing drugs became public, have suggested that McGwire would be welcomed back -- and make major strides in restoring his image -- if he followed a similar path of public acknowledgement and apology.
"I think it does matter" that McGwire make himself available, Mozeliak said. "I just don't want to paint myself in the corner today on this topic. There are still some things I'm trying to learn and to understand."