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McGwire: First day, same old queries

JUPITER — Mark McGwire's first day on the job began with a wrong turn into the media room instead of the spring training clubhouse. It ended with another apology for steroid use.

The Cardinals' new batting coach spent time in the batting cage with hitters, sat in on a lengthy staff meeting then answered questions from reporters for more than 15 minutes. He left more than six hours later Wednesday, but not before signing several autographs.

McGwire, 46, seemed at ease in his first extended media availability since admitting a month ago that he used steroids and human growth hormone during the 1990s. Echoing remarks he made in January, several times he asked for forgiveness.

"It's something I regret," McGwire said. "I can't say I'm sorry enough to everybody in baseball and across America, and whoever watches this great game. I think people understand how truly sorry I was for what I did."

McGwire reiterated his belief that steroids allowed him to recover from injuries and stay on the field but didn't help him break Roger Maris' single-season home run record in 1998. He said it was the evolution of his swing and not drug use that enabled him to hit 70 homers that year, smashing Maris' 37-year-old record of 61, and 65 in 1999.

"Like I've said, people are going to have their opinions," McGwire said. "Listen, it got me the opportunity to get out there and get more at-bats, and I got the chance to play."

LEE SLOWED: Left-hander Cliff Lee has a new spring training address at the Mariners' complex in Peoria, Ariz., but it likely will be another week or more before he can pitch.

Acquired from the Phillies in the offseason, Lee has a bandage around his left foot after Feb. 5 surgery to remove a bone spur. He arrived for a physical and said he's getting around fine.

"It won't affect me," Lee said.

SELIG AGAINST SURCHARGE: An Arizona House committee advanced legislation to provide money for a new spring training facility for the Cubs despite opposition from commissioner Bud Selig. The committee approved a $1 surcharge on each auto rental in the Phoenix area and an 8 percent surcharge on tickets to all spring games in Maricopa County. Selig said it's unfair to add a surcharge for games that don't include the Cubs.

OBITUARY: Former major-league pitcher Jim Bibby died Tuesday night in Lynchburg, Va. He was 65. Mr. Bibby played 12 years in the majors and pitched the first no-hitter in Rangers history, beating Oakland 6-0 in 1973. He was a member of the Pirates team that won the 1979 World Series, starting two games against the Orioles, including the deciding seventh game.

BRAVES: Right-hander Jair Jurrjens has only mild inflammation in his pitching shoulder and could resume throwing as soon as next week.

GIANTS: Two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum and the team finalized a $23 million, two-year contract that avoided salary arbitration.

NATIONALS: Right-handed reliever Brian Bruney lost his arbitration case and was awarded $1.5 million instead of his request for $1.85 million. … Left-hander Ron Villone stayed with the team by agreeing to a minor-league contract.

ROYALS: Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke missed his first scheduled bullpen session because he had to get two teeth pulled.

McGwire: First day, same old queries 02/17/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 11:31pm]
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