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McGwire takes yet another hit

Associated Press / January 22, 2010

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Ferguson Jenkins says Mark McGwire owes an apology to all those pitchers who gave up his home runs.

The Hall of Famer sent an open letter to the Associated Press this week, telling the former home run king: “You have not even begun to apologize to those you have harmed.’’

“How many pitchers do you think he ended their careers by hitting numbers of home runs off them?’’ Jenkins said during a telephone interview yesterday.

Jenkins also maintained he would have known how to handle the bulked-up McGwire, who hit a then-record 70 homers in 1998.

“It’s tough to hit a home run off your back,’’ Jenkins said. “In my era, Seaver, Gibson, Drysdale, Carlton, there were so many guys that would have probably knocked him on his butt.’’

Jenkins is one of several Hall of Famers to criticize McGwire, a group that includes Goose Gossage and Carlton Fisk.

“You have yet to apologize to all the pitchers you faced while juiced,’’ Jenkins wrote. “You altered pitchers’ lives. You may have shortened pitchers careers because of the advantage you forced over them while juiced.’’

Jenkins also didn’t think McGwire will make a very effective hitting coach this season for the Cardinals.

“[St. Louis manager Tony] La Russa is his buddy,’’ Jenkins said. “That’s the only reason he got to be hitting coach. I’m not sure a home run hitter can teach a good hitter, a contact hitter, how to play, how to hit.’’

Hernandez deal done
Felix Hernandez and the Mariners completed a $78 million, five-year deal that averts an arbitration hearing and keeps the young ace under contract through 2014.

Hernandez, 23, could have become a free agent after the 2011 season. “I just wanted to be here. I didn’t care about free agency,’’ he said.

The righthander was 19-5 last season, tied for the most wins in the majors, and made his first All-Star team.

Victorino re-signs
A person familiar with the negotiations said the Phillies and All-Star center fielder Shane Victorino, who had been eligible for arbitration, agreed to a $22 million, three-year contract. Earlier in the day, Joe Blanton agreed to a $24 million, three-year contract with the team, also avoiding arbitration. Blanton, 29, was 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA.

Cabrera gets sober
Instead of honing his swing this offseason, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera focused on getting sober. “My drinking was a problem, and I feel good without it. I feel like a new man,’’ he said. Cabrera spent three months in an outpatient treatment program following a much-publicized drinking binge during the final weekend of last season, a program that GM Dave Dombrowski said will continue into spring training and the upcoming season . . . Octavio Dotel, 36, agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Pirates, the only club offering him the chance to be a closer . . . The Dodgers re-signed righthander Vicente Padilla to a one-year, $5,025,000 contract after his performance down the stretch, when he went 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA in seven starts . . . Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez had left shoulder surgery and it’s unclear if he will be ready by Opening Day. Sanchez signed a $12 million, two-year contract extension Oct. 30.

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