Friday, July 06, 2001

McGwire talks about retirement




The Associated Press

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McGwire
        ST. LOUIS — Mark McGwire, stuck in the worst slump of his career, is wondering if the end of his brilliant career is near.

        McGwire, in an 0-for-29 rut, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in an article Friday that he doesn't expect to be back at full-strength from a knee injury for at least a year.

        When asked if that could lead to his retirement and the end of the season, Big Mac said: “Good question. You talk to people about it and they say, 'You're not done. You're not done.' ... I think I'm still realistic. You have to look yourself in the mirror. There will be a day when you have to say, 'I don't have it anymore.”'

        The 37-year-old first baseman said he was “embarrassed” about the slump that has dropped his average to .183. But he also said he hoped the second half of the season wouldn't be the end of his career.

        Two other baseball greats — Baltimore's Cal Ripken and San Diego's Tony Gwynn — have already announced that they will retire at the end of the year.

        McGwire signed a two-year contract extension earlier this season that will pay him $30 million in 2002-03. But he told the paper Thursday, “I don't want to cheat the team.”

        “A lot of people don't give a damn,” he added. “A lot of players don't have pride. A lot of players just play for the money and they don't care and they just go home. But I go home, and I can't sleep. I get paid a lot of money to do what I do and I'm not doing it.”

        McGwire captivated baseball in 1998 when he broke Roger Maris' single-season homer record by hitting 70. He followed that by hitting 65 the next season, raising speculation that he could threaten Hank Aaron's career record of 755.

        But tendinitis in his right knee limited him to 32 homers in 89 games last season and McGwire has just seven so far this year, giving him 561.

        McGwire had surgery on the knee Oct. 21 and rehabilitated it during the offseason. He was limited during spring training and spent six weeks on the disabled list early in the season.

        “I'm at a crossroads right now,” he told the paper. “I'm not 24 years old, and I don't heal as quickly. My legs are strong, but they're not the strength that I know.

        “I'm not going to be at full strength for a year. I really took for granted how much I use my legs. And I'm paying for it right now. I'm hitting lazy fly balls that I should be driving over the fence.”

       



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