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Canseco has strong opinions on steroid issue

Jose Canseco doesn't believe the recent claims of Major League Baseball that only 5-7 percent of all big leaguers tested positive for steroids.

The first prominent ex-player to charge baseball with rampant steroid use, Canseco isn't backing down after several months ago claiming around 80 percent of major leaguers were taking steroids.

"I just want to know how [the tests] were performed. If it was done randomly, on a schedule? How was it structured? Who administered it? I don't believe it. I don't think it was accurate," Canseco said from Miami, where he's under house arrest until March. "I think those tests can be completely manipulated."

The 39-year-old Cuban-born former slugger said he will tell his life story in a book he hopes will come out in the not-too-distant future, which will detail steroid use in baseball and likely name names.

Canseco, who said he could still hit 35-40 home runs, says he will also detail in the book how he was blackballed from baseball. He said he did not watch much baseball this past season, as he spent 2 1/2 months in a Miami jail after violating probation for testing positive for a steroid. Canseco, who said he lost 30 pounds because of stress, was released Aug. 25, but he remains under house arrest.

Canseco is now claiming his urine sample was misprocessed by the testing laboratories and his lawyer, Robert Saunooke, is attempting to recoup the money Canseco said he lost out on while incarcerated.

"That was very depressing," said Canseco of his time in jail. "I lost the opportunity to be with my daughter after being illegally arrested and accused." Canseco floats a conspiracy theory that his sample was mixed up because "there are so many people who did not want this book published."

Canseco said, "Once this book comes out it will explain everything. It's a fascinating book." Canseco said he's been approached about a movie based on the book and his life.

Canseco also offered his interesting views on steroids. "Steroids aren't as bad as some people make them out to be," he said. "Steroids, if used the right way with human growth hormones, can have a profound effect on your life. We're supposed to be built to live 120-130 years, and a combination of steroids and human growth hormones, if taken properly, can add 30 years to your life."

Canseco, asked whether this era's home run totals should be tainted as a result of positive steroid tests, said they should be viewed as "part of the evolution of sports." He indicated that because players may now get off steroids because of the punishments Major League Baseball is about to levy, "it will take those players years to recover [in terms of baseball statistics]."

He's been there

We are not certain whether it came up in his two interviews with Red Sox management and one with owner John W. Henry, but if Terry Francona was asked how he deals with big stars and the media, hopefully he mentioned managing Michael Jordan in the minor leagues.

Francona, 36 at the time, had to deal with a horde of national and foreign media and an overflowing stadium. Every day brought a Jordan update. How many hits? Did he do OK in left field and right field? Is he making progress hitting the curveball? Will he make it to the big leagues?

"It wasn't as hard for me as people thought," recalled Francona. "I mean, I wasn't teaching him basketball. There's no place I'm more relaxed and comfortable than on a baseball field. Michael was great to work with. Baseball was foreign to him. He was very hungry for help and direction. I thought I paid Michael a lot of attention. I hope he would say I was there for him."

Making Jordan a baseball star, though, wasn't Francona's primary job.

"The biggest thing for me was making sure that the other players on that club knew they were just as important," said Francona. "I spent a lot of time with the other players because I wanted to make sure Michael being around wasn't interfering with their development."

Francona said Jordan was always very respectful. He'll always remember Jordan soaking in the atmosphere and how interesting Francona thought it was when Jordan buddied up with Mike Robertson, a Crash Davis-like figure who had a cup of coffee with the Phillies. Jordan admired Robertson's thirst to make it to The Show.

Imagine the scene when a struggling Jordan came into Francona's office one night and asked, "Should I keep playing? I don't want to waste your time if you don't think I should continue this." And Francona assuring him that he should keep plugging away. Jordan hit about .300 after that conversation.

Playing for Francona in Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League, Jordan's teammates included Nomar Garciaparra, Mike Cameron, Chris Snopek, Joe Randa, Michael Tucker, and Shane Halter.

High-priced talent

Estimated price tag on Kaz Matsui after polling three top agents: four years, $25 million. The Japanese phenom has retained SFX agent Arn Tellum, who also represents Garciaparra. Matsui has told Tellum that he only wants to play shortstop and will not agree to a move to second base. The switch-hitting phenom is said to be a five-tool player, according to one scout who has watched him often. "He has Nomar-like power, but not as good a pure hitter," said the scout. "I think you take Alex Rodriguez out of the mix. I think he has [Derek] Jeter's intangibles.". . . David Wells is scheduled to have surgery on the L4 and L5 disks in his back Dec. 2 in New York. Wells had similar surgery two years ago and recovered well. He's expected to have a 10-12-week recovery period, which means he'll miss the first two weeks of spring training. The 40-year-old lefthander definitely wants to keep pitching, and hasn't ruled out returning to the Yankees. The Red Sox have not inquired about Wells, according to his agent, Gregg Clifton . . . Two comebacking pitchers to watch: Pete Harnisch and local boy Kevin McGlinchy. Harnisch is now two years removed from Tommy John surgery and says he feels good. Harnisch had some rocky moments last season for the Reds, who have since released him, and he has already received some calls. McGlinchy, from Malden, pitched for Butch Hobson and the Nashua Pride, an independent team, and appears healthy again after having a second surgery for a torn labrum. McGlinchy is only 26, throwing up around 90 miles per hour again, and is expected to get a workout with the Blue Jays and possibly the Red Sox. "He pitched very well for me," Hobson said. "He was released by Bud Harrelson's team in Long Island and we signed him and we used him in a setup role. I really believe as he continues to get his arm strength back he's going to be back up there." . . . Tom Glavine already is working on turning the page on his frustrating first season in New York. The Mets lefthander has a checklist of things he will refine and change in the offseason, and if anyone can return to his past prominence, Glavine can . . . When Yankees right fielder Karim Garcia was looking for an attorney to represent him in the assault and battery charge stemming from the incident involving groundskeeper Paul Williams in the Yankee bullpen during the ALCS, the first he called was Boston's Harry Manion. One problem, Manion's firm, Cooley Manion Jones, represents Williams . . . Gary Sheffield, who wants to be a Yankee, is going to let Doc Gooden, his uncle, who is employed by the Yankees, do some politicking for him. "If Gary wants it to happen," said Gooden, "and [Yankees owner] George [Steinbrenner] wants it to happen, I don't see why it can't happen." . . . Barring a great offer, it appears the best bet for the Red Sox would be to continue to rehab lefthander Casey Fossum and bring him back to compete for a bullpen spot. His trade value won't be high again until he proves himself.

Moving on

Grady Little's next job might be as a special assistant to a general manager. The former Sox skipper has received more than 25 inquiries from teams looking for him to fill a role in their organizations. While Little thought about sitting home in Pinehurst, N.C., now it appears he will take a job. One thing Little doesn't want to do is go to a team where the manager might be in trouble. He doesn't want to be considered waiting in the wings . . . Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi knows New York and Boston can outspend him by a long shot and that Baltimore has about $40 million to spend in free agency, so he's got to find creative ways to stay competitive. And so far he's done just that. Feeling Kelvim Escobar (three years, $18.75 million with the Angels) and Cory Lidle would be too expensive to re-sign, he's gone out and replaced them with veterans Pat Hentgen and Ted Lilly, whose combined salaries will be about $4 million, the amount the Jays paid Lidle last year. "We watched Pat very closely during the year [in Baltimore] and we just felt he can really help us and give us a good 180 innings," Ricciardi said. "Between the two of them we feel we can get a quality 370 innings. In our situation you have to be creative and we think we've done that. Ricciardi feels with the Jays' explosive offense, they will continue to make strides next season. Lilly won 12 games for Oakland and was traded for Bobby Kielty. Hentgen had a 3.16 ERA over the last three months of the season . . . There is competition under way for second-tier pitchers. John Burkett is getting some interest from the Jays and Yankees, as well as the Giants, Angels, and Royals. The Braves would like to re-sign Shane Reynolds, but they're waiting to see what happens with Greg Maddux in free agency. The Cardinals and Angels are also interested. Lefthander Sterling Hitchcock, 5-1 with the Cardinals after they picked him up late last season, is also receiving interest from the Reds, Cubs, Astros, Jays, and Giants. According to one prominent agent, after the dust clears from the non-arbitration tenders, "You could put together a team that would be better than four or five teams in the league."

Dreams dashed

When the United States baseball team failed to qualify for next summer's Olympics in Athens, it not only ended a dream Roger Clemens had of pitching for the team, but also the dream of Bill Haselman, who was intending to catch Clemens. Haselman had approached Clemens about becoming US Olympic batterymates, and things seemed to be in place until the US failed to qualify. "I was really looking forward to it," said Haselman. "I thought we had it all set up. I spoke to Roger and he liked the idea and things were pretty much set. It was a shock we didn't qualify. When you think of baseball, you think of the US. I know the rule was changed because we won the gold medal the year before and you should automatically qualify, but they changed the rule." . . . GM Theo Epstein said the Red Sox won't have an in-house candidate for their vacant managerial job, which means Pawtucket's Buddy Bailey, a two-time International League manager of the year, will not be interviewed. Currently managing in the winter league in Venezuela, Bailey said, "I mean, who wouldn't want to interview for a job like that? That's a great job. I'd love the opportunity. Really, I'm here to serve the Boston organization and do whatever they want me to do. I'm sure when the time is right for me, I'll get my chance. I'm just very happy to be with the Red Sox." . . . Lefthander Scott Sauerbeck, who suffered tendinitis throughout the second half of the year and took two cortisone shots, may still be re-signed by the Sox, but likely not until they sort out their pursuit of A's free agent closer Keith Foulke . . . Congratulations to Garciaparra and Mia Hamm, who were wed on the West Coast this weekend.

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