McKay: Anger to pity

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

At first, Dave McKay was angry.

The former Oakland A's first base coach, who also ran the team's strength and conditioning program, was upset about Jose Canseco's soon-to-be released book.

In Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big, Canseco claims, according to the New York Daily News, that the A's clubhouse was an "abuser's paradise."

"The statement that 80% of the A's were taking steroids angered me," McKay said from Scottsdale, Ariz., last night. "He made it sound like our guys had drugs passing through our clubhouse

"I was with these guys all the time. We lifted at home. On the road, we'd meet in the lobby and go to a gym."

McKay says if five drugs were on a table in front of him -- three of them being steroids -- he wouldn't know which one was the banned substance. He knows of the damage steroids can do. He remembers when Lyle Alzado of the Oakland Raiders, died in 1992, his death blamed on steroids.

"We had one guy who talked about steroids and that was Jose," said McKay, who accompanied manager Tony LaRussa to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1996. "The most common question I was asked was: 'I won't get too big will I?' "

For decades, baseball people preached against weight- lifting for fear players would become muscle-bound and be unable to be fluid and loose with movement.

"You put a program together and a guy wanders off on his own, because he was smarter than me. That's Jose. The only guy that was tough to get into the weight room was Jose.

"A writer from the New York Times phoned me and said Jose wrote he never played a game without taking a steroid before the game.

"Think about that. It isn't football. A steroid every day, a steroid before he worked out? Why would you take steroids before a ball game?"

McKay disputed Canseco's claim that he never would have made the majors without steroids.

"He showed up in instructional league and was a star then," he said.

"Isn't that a nice message to send to kids?" McKay, the Blue Jays' original second baseman asked. "In his prime, Jose had the best arm in baseball. He could fly. But within a couple of years, either his back was hurting or his knee bothered him. He didn't pan out to be the player he was supposed to be."

Canseco should have finished his career with 600-700 homers and as a Hall of Famer, the Vancouver native said. Canseco retired in 2001 with 462 homers.

McKay has gone from being angry to starting to "feel sorry for him. He's not being honest. He must need money."

Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez are all mentioned in the book. McKay said he expects to be named.

"If he is saying that George W. Bush, now the (U.S.) president, was in the know, he is going to name me," McKay said. "How in the world would anyone at the ownership level know what was going on?

'FRIES YOUR BRAIN'

"They say that stuff fries your brain. Maybe it did."

Side effects of steroid abuse include heart disease, high blood pressure, clogged arteries, liver cancer, prostate cancer, breast growth, baldness and atrophied testicles.

McKay remembers A's players, after a trip to the showers, telling him in the early 1990s, that Canseco's testicles were shrinking.

"I told him whatever he was doing, he had to be careful, McKay said. "But you can't tell him a thing. He's like Dennis Rodman. He's not going to listen."


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