A day after his emotional comments regarding his brothers newly released book, Mark McGwire talked with us on the radio today for long time. He remains very open and willing to talk with reporters about any subject. He really just wants to move on and focus all his attention on his duties as hitting coach, but continues to answer questions about his past with the media. McGwire has been arriving at Cardinals camp at about 7 am each day, and he's usually among the last of the coaches to leave the complex in the late afternoon. It's pretty clear he's committed to this new job, and is totally engrossed in it. There were skeptics who thought maybe he was just doing this to get back in the good graces of baseball to improve his Hall of Fame chances, but I don't believe that to be the case. He told me today he's not motivated by the Hall of Fame, but rather his love of the game and his eagerness to teach young hitters. He also shot down the notion that young players today don't want to work hard at the game. He said players today work harder than they ever have, and most are very willing to accept coaching.
Tony La Russa isn't saying yet who is opening day starting pither will be, though it seems likely to be Chris Carpenter. Adam Wainwright would be the other possibility, but La Russa usually gives the nod to the more experienced player in situations like this. Neither Carpenter or Wainwright will start a game next week when the Grapefruit league season opens. Instead, the coaches want to get an early look at some of the younger guys fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation or a place in the bullpen.
My time in Jupiter has come to an end. Back to St. Louis now. Can't wait, even if it is still very cold there. You really get a sense of the "Groundhog Day" phenomenon when you cover spring training. Everyday starts the same, with the alarm clock going off, followed by the same hotel continental breakfast, same trip to the park, you see the same people when you get there, try again to get players to leave the clubhouse to come outside and do a television interview, hear many of the same excuses for why they can't do it right now, sit around and wait about three hours for their practice to get over, then beg for more interviews, hear more of the same excuses, then take the tapes you've shot to the local tv station in West Palm Beach to edit, tell the same people there who you are and what you need to do at their station, satellite the tape back to KMOV, put all the equipment away, go out to dinner, back to the hotel, watch the olympics, go to bed, and then repeat that cycle for the next day.
Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad gig... just the same thing everyday for almost two weeks. I've seen enough hitting off a tee, grounders hit to infielders, pitchers covering first base, fungoed flyballs to outfielders, and balls thrown into the dirt so catchers can work on blocking the short hop. It's all fascinating stuff, but at this point it's a "been there, done that" thing. I'm toast.