Canseco returning to baseball

Jose Canseco. (WENN.COM)

Jose Canseco. (WENN.COM)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

CALGARY - A lifelong Toronto Blue Jays fan, Calgary Vipers outfielder Drew Miller recalls watching slugger Jose Canseco crush a home run “that was about three rows (away from) hitting the roof of the Skydome.”

This summer, Miller and his Snakes teammates will find out first-hand if the longtime major-leaguer can bash a ball over the fence at Foothills Stadium.

On Monday morning, the Yuma Scorpions announced they’ve enlisted the controversial Canseco to serve as a full-time player and field manager for the upcoming North American Baseball League campaign.

“I think he could put a good swing on one. As strong as he is, I’m pretty sure he can hit one out,” Miller said. “It’ll be really fun to watch him take batting practice. He should still have it. I know a lot of other managers, like (former big-leaguers) Bret Boone and Garry Templeton, they’ve taken BP once in a while and they’ve put on some pretty good shows. So I think he’s still got it and he’ll be fun to watch.”

Canseco, who bashed 462 home runs in 17 big-league seasons, could be the biggest name to ever set foot on the diamond at Foothills Stadium to face the Vipers. His twin brother, Ozzie, will also play and serve as a bench coach for the Scorpions.

“I’m excited about my first chance to manage a club in professional baseball and to begin to transition my career to helping younger players and giving back to the game,” Jose Canseco said in a statement. “But I know I can still play and hit so this player/manager opportunity was just what I was looking for. Two of my idols started as player managers — Frank Robinson (Cleveland, 1975) and Joe Torre (New York Mets, 1977) — and I can only hope to follow in their footsteps.”

Canseco collected a big-league paycheque from 1985-2002, including stints with the Oakland A’s, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox.

The 46-year-old hasn’t exactly shied away from the spotlight since his last big-league campaign, writing a tell-all book about steroid abuse, appearing on The Real World and Celebrity Apprentice and even putting up his dukes for celebrity boxing matches.

The Vipers will hold training camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., and will open their regular-season slate in late May in Yuma. The Scorpions are also scheduled to make two trips to Calgary this summer, including a five-game series that starts June 28.

“When Yuma is in town, people — even if they’re not baseball fans — will want to come see Canseco play. Especially if he’s in the lineup, they’ll want to see if he can still hit the long-ball, for sure,” said Vipers GM Patrick Haas. “Even the last couple of years, the younger generation found out who Jose Canseco was with his book, the reality shows, the steroid accusations and all that stuff. It gave him maybe even more publicity than he had even when he was back playing. A lot of people know who he is, even if you’re not a baseball fan.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/WesGilbertson


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