Selig welcomes Cardinals' hiring of McGwire

Oct 30, 2009 - 12:03 AM By RONALD BLUM AP Baseball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Bud Selig is happy Big Mac is back in baseball.

Mark McGwire was hired this week as hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals, ending an exile for the former slugger who became notorious for his refusal to answer congressional questions about steroids use.

"Over the years I developed affection for players who I get to know and have been good," Selig said Thursday before Game 2 of the World Series.

McGwire hit a then-record 70 homers in 1998 and retired with 583 in 2001. Four years later at a congressional hearing on steroids, he repeatedly said he wasn't there to talk about the past.

The Cardinals plan to hold a telephone news conference with McGwire after the World Series.

"When he comes back, you'll all have a lot of opportunities to talk to him," Selig told reporters. "The fact that he's coming back gives you an opportunity you wouldn't have had."

McGwire got under 25 percent support from voters in his three appearances on the Hall of Fame ballot, well under the 75 percent needed, and some say allegations of steroids use are a reason for his lack of support.

Selig has been in contact with team management about McGwire.

"I know how badly the Cardinals wanted to do it. I know that Tony La Russa, who has been talking to me about it, has been working with him. I know how close they are," Selig said. "I know much Bill DeWitt wanted to do it."

Without being prompted, Selig defended baseball's drug-testing program.

"I can only deal with the present and the future, and I could not be more proud," he said. "We administered 3,700 major league tests this year and had two positives. That's the story. We administered for the ninth straight year 8,955 minor league tests, and we had seven-tenths of 1 percent positive."

On another topic, Selig said his stance against expanding the use of replays to aid umpires has not changed - but he did promise more discussions. A series of blown calls during the postseason has led to some calling for replay use to expand beyond its current use, for whether potential home runs carried over fences or were fair or foul.

"I understand we had some incidents that were most unfortunate," Selig said. "I think there are other ways we can make corrections. During the offseason we'll review everything. ... I'm not afraid of change. but you have to be very careful when you tamper with the sport."

He also said he had spoken with Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who criticized an offseason scheduled that had his team play eight games in the first 20 days because of an increase in off-days that began in 2007 at the request of baseball's broadcast partners. Selig said the unpredictability of the length of postseason series made planning complicated.

"How do you know in the middle of March if they're going to go three games, four games, five games? How do you if you're going to need an East Coast-West Coast travel day?" he said. "People say you hate going into November? Yeah, of course I do. Nobody worries about the weather more than I do."

Selig refused to discuss the divorce proceedings between Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his wife, former Dodgers chief executive officer Jamie McCourt. Frank McCourt fired his wife last week, and Jamie McCourt claims she is a co-owner.

"That's a matter between them," Selig said.

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