Henke never saw drug use

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

Tom Henke was a teammate of Jose Canseco's with the Texas Rangers in 1993-94. Henke joined the St. Louis Cardinals in 1995 and retired after one season. But, he got to know Mark McGwire, who arrived in 1997, on his frequent trips to Busch Stadium.

Henke is closer to the subjects than most, to speak about Canseco's accusations that Canseco injected McGwire with steroids.

"I played 14 years in the majors and I'm either naive or stupid, but I never saw steroids," Henke said from Jefferson City, Mo. "They weren't apparent in the clubhouse.

"I think he's a guy trying to sell a book."

In his book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big, Canseco said he introduced Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez to steroids.

"Maybe he was around them more than I was," Henke said. "I don't think any of them did steroids."

Henke gave up 64 homers in his 548 career innings and yesterday said not once does he remember wondering a player was using drugs.

"Guys were obviously getting bigger and stronger, most through a lot of hard work on their own," Henke said. "The ball was juiced which baseball never admitted and new parks were being built smaller and smaller.

"I can't ever remember seeing a guy and thinking, 'He's on steroids.' "

McGwire, the single-season home-run king, has vanished from sight since retiring and when spotted at post-season events has dropped plenty of weight.

"Mark got big over the course of years. It wasn't the case of one spring, he showed up big," Henke said.

Unlike Canseco. One National League scout recalls being at the Oakland A's spring complex in Phoenix.

"I saw Canseco come through the door and said, 'God damn does he look different?' He was as big as a house," the scout said. "I thought to myself how could he change his body type from the end of the season to the next. Of course, he was hitting balls to the moon.

"What I noticed was that while he hit the ball further, he couldn't throw as well, in fact, his throwing deteriorated, it was like he built up one area and another fell back."

Should Barry Bonds and McGwire be in the Hall of Fame five years after both have retired?

"Yes," said Deacon Jones, a Baltimore Orioles scout, who played in the majors for three seasons in the 1960s.

"Baseball has always been about getting the edge on the other guy. Teams stole signs for decades. Do you think Albert Belle's corked bat was the first one?

"Gaylord Perry wrote a book on cheating and how he loaded up his spitball and still was elected to the Hall of Fame."

Jones pointed to Joe Niekro getting caught with an emery board in his back pocket or opposing managers sending boxes of scuffed balls off to the commissioner's office after a Nolan Ryan start.

"Pete Rose? You can't take all those hits away from him, can you?" Jones asked.

Henke disputed Canseco's claim that then Texas co-owner George W. Bush knew of steroid use.

"If I don't know, how is a guy in the front office supposed to know?" Henke said. "I think the whole book is a grandstanding type of a thing."

As Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona said the other day: "There are great players, good players and average players in the majors. No matter the ability, everyone should be a good teammate."

"I think Jose Canseco has fallen down in that area."


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