Even though he probably won’t get the accolades because of the his admittance to PED’s, Mark McGwire will always be one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball history. Big Mac carried that over into coaching the last few seasons as McGwire got the opportunity to become the Cardinals hitting coach. The job he did last year was sensational. Even though St. Louis was without Albert Pujols, McGwire guided the Cardinals offense as they became one of the best offenses in the majors. He will try to do the same thing back in his hometown of Los Angeles. Big Mac was given an offer to become the Dodgers hitting coach and he accepted. There is no excuse for the Dodgers to struggle at the plate, especially with the kind of talent on the roster and now maybe one of the best hitters in the history of the game will be able to get the most of the Dodgers offensive talent.
Mark McGwire joined Fox Sports Radio with Petros and Money to talk about working with a new roster like the Dodgers, whether it is different teaching home run hitters versus just slap hitters, on the prevalence of PED’s in Major League Baseball, what he would say to any young player that asks him about taking PED’s and when the decision was made to go to the Dodgers.
On working with a new roster like the Dodgers:
“First of all you have to get to know the guys. You have to observe, watch and like I was saying earlier watching guys hit from afar is a little bit different than watching guys hit right in front of you. You have to get to know them, you have to get into their brain and you have to see what makes them tick. Go and get to know them. Know their swings, know when they’re going good what they feel like and when they’re going bad. Just observing is going to be the big thing. Can’t wait to get some film on everybody and start checking out their swings. Spring Training is three and a half months away but feel like going right now.”
Whether it is different teaching home run hitters versus just slap hitters:
“Hitting is hitting and you have to have a game plan. Hitting in the big leagues is hitting strikes. Home run hitters are born, RBI hitters are born, gap hitters are born, you can’t all the sudden one day go ‘hey I’m going to be a home run hitter,’ that’s just not it. There’s only one bonafide home run hitter in the game of baseball today and he’s sitting in Miami, Giancarlo Stanton. This guy is what 23-years-old, missed another six weeks and still hit close to 40. Guys are born to hit home runs. Hitting is hitting. It doesn’t matter if you are working with a home run hitter, a singles hitter or a doubles hitter, there’s a common thing and it’s all about hitting strikes and having a game plan.”
On the prevalence of PED’s:
“I don’t know. I’ve never heard anybody talk about it. I’m a great example of what happens when, I mean I owned up to it. Why anybody would even think about doing that today I have no idea. I’m sad for these guys but then again you have to look at Major League Baseball and what they have done to crack down on it, it’s been fantastic for the game of baseball and you just have to move on from it. I don’t know what the percentage is, I think it’s a lot lower but as far as I know nobody ever talks about it. You just have to move on and if people get caught then they get caught. That’s why they have the testing and it’s gotten stronger over the years and you have to give kudos to the MLB for doing what they’re doing, I think it’s great.”
What he would say to any hitter that asks him about using PED’s:
“Yeah, don’t do it. Use your head. It’s a mistake that I have to live with for the rest of my life. I have to deal with never, ever getting into the Hall-of-Fame. I totally understand and totally respect their opinion and I will never, ever push it. That is the way it’s going to be and I can live with that. One of the hardest things I had to do this year was sit down with my nine and ten year old boys and tell them what dad did. That was a really hard thing to do but I did it. They understood as much as a nine or ten year old could. It’s just something, if any ball player ever came up to me, run away from it. It’s not good. Run away from it.”
When the decision was made to go to the Dodgers:
“It all started last week. I got a call from my former GM in St. Louis, John Mozeliak, called me about the possibility of coming back to the Cardinals for another year but said he had to talk to me about something and he said the Dodgers called and asked for permission to talk to me. Thought about it. I think it was last Monday and then called back on Tuesday and said I’d like to talk to the Dodgers after talking to my wife and really weighing the options. Then the next thing you know I was was talking to Ned (Colletti), I talked to Don (Mattingly), had great conversations and then I met with Ned last Wednesday, met for two or three hours and then I ended up deciding. I mean it’s a perfect fit for me and my family. I can’t wait, it’s a new chapter in my life as a coach and it’s the first time in my professional career that I can live and work in the same city. To come home after a game, take my kids to school, then head up to the stadium and get ready for the next day, to hopefully watch my kids play Little League ball.
This last year was a very difficult year, being away from my family. The way the schedule worked, Spring Training in Florida, it was really, really hard on me and there was a thought where I didn’t know what was going to happen with the Cardinals but I was very, very excited when Mo called and said that the Dodgers wanted to talk to me. That’s how everything developed and I couldn’t be any happier. It was a very difficult time last week as far as calling Mo back, calling Mr. Dewitt, the owner of the Cardinals, calling Mike Matheny, calling all the coaching staff, calling all the players that I had played with and have great relationships with and notifying them and telling them I won’t be coming back next year. It was a difficult time but sometimes you have to make tough choices.
Even though it was a tough choice to leave St. Louis, it was an easy choice for me to come back and be in L.A. Super, great memories as a kid in Dodger Stadium. I had one bad moment in Dodger Stadium when (Kirk) Gibson hit the home run. I was standing at first base in the ’88 World Series but other than that it’s just wonderful to be a Dodger. When I was at USC facing Fernando Valenzuela, we played a game in Dodger Stadium and facing him before the Dodgers went to Spring Training so it was great. I just have so many great memories in Dodger Stadium and it’s going to be great to be a coach and work with all these great players. What a lineup it’s going to be.”