La Russa: McGwire Could Bat as Pinch Hitter (But Only Until Ted Williams' Body Defrosts)


The probability of the Cardinals new hitting coach Mark McGwire returning to the plate as a pinch hitter isn't likely, though manager Tony La Russa hasn't entirely ruled it out.

Speaking this week to the Bay Area's Contra Costa Times, La Russa had this to say of the slugger who retired following the 2001 season.

"If we're in contention, we'll put him on the roster Aug. 31. It's a nice little dream. Is it likely? Probably not. I don't think it's a zero possibility. The point is, you'll see him in spring training. He won't be leaning on the batting cage chatting it up. He'll work his (butt) off, and hitters will be thrilled he's there helping them.

La Russa also told the paper that McGwire must answer questions soon about the steroid suspicions that have dogged him since his "I'm Not Here to Talk About the Past" debacle in front of Congress back in 2005.

Ironically, perhaps, McGwire's return as a player could help his Hall of Fame potential regardless of whether he whiffs or hits the ball out of the park.

McGwire has come up short on the past four ballots for Cooperstown, though it seems HOF voters are warming slightly to the former home-run king. In this week's 2010 ballot, McGwire received his most votes ever -- 128 or 23.7 percent of votes.

A return to the game would postpone his HOF eligibility another five years. Perhaps by then baseball voters will be even more forgiving and science will have advanced far enough to allow La Russa to thaw the body of Ted Williams and give life to his next late/great pinch hitter. Just a thought. 

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