Canseco book due for release in September
Canseco probably wrote his final chapter in baseball at Monday's workout, looking nothing like the slugger who intimidated opposing pitchers in the late 1980s and '90s.
"I think he swung the bat good, he hit a couple balls good," former Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda said afterward.
Now a senior vice president with the Dodgers, Lasorda seemed to realize he was being overly kind.
"He thought that coming out here and hitting off these guys wouldn't be too much to do," he said.
Matt Slater, the Dodgers' director of professional scouting, said he expected one or two of the 108 players who attended the workout would be signed, with a decision announced Tuesday.
Slater said Canseco was told several days ago there was a 99 percent chance the Dodgers wouldn't sign him.
"This is probably going to be my last attempt -- see you in the movies," Canseco told reporters afterward as he signed autographs.
Now living in the Los Angeles suburb of Encino, Canseco claims to have Hollywood connections.
"It could have gone better -- technique's a little off," he said. "I wish I had a little more time to get ready. I'm not going to hold my breath on it. It's basically out of my hands -- just being realistic."
The players took batting and fielding practice in the morning, with the group cut down for an intrasquad game in the afternoon.
A six-time All-Star who has 462 career homers, Canseco hit one ball over the fence in 18 batting practice swings and wasn't particularly impressive otherwise against pitcher Juan Bustabad, the hitting coach for the Dodgers' Vero Beach farm team.
Canseco had two singles in six official at-bats with a walk and two strikeouts in the intrasquad game.
Again, he didn't appear to be anywhere close to top form despite the fact that his representative, Doug Ames, said his client had been working out at UCLA for several weeks.
Canseco said he was serious about trying to get back into baseball and thought he could be successful.
"I think in three or four weeks I could be back to 100 percent," he said. "I'm excited to be here -- maybe they need some right-handed power hitting, a first baseman."
The Dodgers scored a big league-low 574 runs and have been in the market for a right-handed power hitter.
But it would be a shock if they signed Canseco, who played first base in the intrasquad game -- a position he's never played in the big leagues.
Now 39, Canseco last played in the majors in 2001, when he hit .258 with 16 homers for the Chicago White Sox.
Canseco and Mark McGwire teamed in Oakland as the "Bash Brothers," leading the Athletics to three straight World Series appearances from 1988-90, including the 1989 title.
Canseco won the 1988 AL MVP award and ranks 26th on baseball's career home run list.
He spent more than two months in jail last summer for testing positive for steroids while on probation -- a charge he denied. Prosecutors later dropped the charge, prompting his release from custody. He had been on probation since the previous November when he pleaded guilty to aggravated battery for a 2001 nightclub fight with two tourists.
Canseco smiled and said hello to Lasorda while registering for the tryout. He was handed No. 521, which Ames taped on the back of his T-shirt.
"I feel like I'm back in jail -- I've got a number on my back," Canseco said.
"It's a shock to me, to see him here for a tryout," Lasorda said.
Canseco said he believes he has been blackballed from the majors. When asked why, he replied: "Issues; the book I'm writing."
He said the book would be entitled: "Dare to Truth," and answered most of the questions posed by reporters by saying, "Read the book."
Ames said a book deal has been finalized, with a September release date.
Canseco said he stood behind his allegation of a couple years ago that 80 percent of major leaguers had taken steroids, but added: "I think the numbers may have changed. Who knows? Maybe the numbers have diminished."
He also said there was a big difference in using and abusing steroids.
"Steroids don't give you hand-eye coordination," he said. "I think there's too much emphasis put on it -- too much negativity."
Canseco was one of six former big leaguers who took part in the tryout. The others were pitchers Bryan Rekar, Jeff Sparks and Rusty Meacham, infielder Alex Arias and first baseman-outfielder Doug Jennings.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press