Former career home run king Hank Aaron says Mark McGwire should have a clear conscience after his recent admission he used performance-enhancing drugs as a player.
Aaron said other players still harboring similar secrets also should come clean.
“I think baseball is cleaning up its act a little bit, I really do,’’ Aaron said yesterday during a visit to Atlanta Braves camp in Kissimmee, Fla. “I’ve said this and I’ll say it again, over and over again, this is the most forgiving country in the world. If you come through and tell the truth, then you’re going to be forgiven.
“The kid with the Yankees, [Andy] Pettitte, came out and it was a week of news and after that it was over. We all make mistakes. If they ever did enhancing drugs, whatever they did, they should come clean and be able to sleep at night.’’
Aaron said McGwire’s admission and apology this year was overdue but still welcome.
“I would have loved to have seen him do it a long time ago, but since he did it, I think that he himself will tell you right now he’s able to sleep at night and he’s able to look at his teammates,’’ Aaron said. “He’s done everything that he can do.’’
McGwire, who hit a then-season record 70 homers in 1998, admitted this year he used steroids and human growth hormone as a player. He is beginning his first season as the Cardinals’ hitting coach.
“It’s nice to have him back,’’ Aaron said.
Aaron hit a record 755 home runs for the Braves and Brewers. His record was broken by Barry Bonds, who also eclipsed McGwire’s mark with 73 homers in 2001. Bonds has pleaded not guilty to charges of lying when he told a federal grand jury in 2003 that he never knowingly used steroids.
Aaron did not mention Bonds.
Manny leaving LA? Manny Ramirez
is known for saying some curious things. This is his latest pronouncement: The Dodgers star insists his days in LA are numbered. “I know I’m not going to be here next year,’’ said Ramirez, whose contract expires after this season. Why is he so certain he won’t get an extension? “I just know I’m not going to be here,’’ he said. Ramirez served a 50-game drug suspension last year and, for him, was hardly a force - .290, 19 home runs, 63 RBIs . . . Meanwhile, former Red Sox
teammate Johnny Damon
says he’s quite happy where he landed. “This is where I wanted to be,’’ Damon said after completing his one-year, $8 million contract with Detroit. “The Tigers were my first choice. I love it here and think I am a good fit.’’ Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski
has said Damon wasn’t in the team’s plans as late as January, but came into the picture after the team dealt leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson
to the Yankees.
Soriano still slowed Alfonso Soriano
underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Sept. 15. Five months later, he said he isn’t sure when he’ll be able to go full speed on it - not what fans were hoping to hear from a guy who played in only 117 games with the Cubs in 2009 in the third season of an eight-year, $136 million contract. Soriano said he’s probably at about 80 percent or 85 percent but hasn’t completely tested the knee by running the bases or chasing fly balls . . . Phillies closer Brad Lidge
took his first step toward returning from offseason surgeries on his elbow and knee, throwing 20 pitches - all fastballs - off a mound. “We have to build some arm strength first, and the rest of my body is doing great,’’ Lidge said.
Crawford stays focused Carl Crawford
wants to win - and be paid. The three-time All-Star reported to spring training and insisted he’s focused on helping the Rays get back to the playoffs, not the prospect of becoming a free agent after the season. “I try not to think about it, just try to think about the important stuff like winning,’’ said Crawford, who will earn $10 million in the final season of a $33.5 million, six-year contract . . . Free agent outfielder Jonny Gomes
, who hit .267 with 20 homers in 98 games for the Reds last season, signed a one-year, $800,000 deal with Cincinnati . . . Chan Ho Park
told reporters in Seoul he has agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.2 million with $300,000 in performances to join the Yankees bullpen . . . Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts
has been diagnosed with a small herniated disk but expects to be OK for Opening Day.
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