Big Mac takes first BP, plans to play in spring opener
Updated: Wednesday February 21, 2001 8:01 PM
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) -- Mark McGwire took his first swings of the spring Wednesday, and hit at least a dozen batting practice home runs.
"I felt pretty good," McGwire said. "I love what I do and I think that's the bottom line.
"How could you not love to get in the box, see the ball and watch it go a long way?"
McGwire said he feels fully recovered from tendinitis in his right knee, an injury that landed him on the disabled list for two months and reduced him to pinch-hit duty the final month of the season and the playoffs.
"Now, there's no problem," the St. Louis slugger said. "The strength is there, so it's just a matter of getting back into playing shape."
Like every season, McGwire likes to start slow.
"I'll take a few less times at bat this spring," he said.
But he said Tuesday that there's 'probably a real good chance' he'll play in the spring opener March 2.
Earlier at Cardinals' camp, Rick Ankiel worked out. The left-hander, trying to overcome last year late wildness, threw in the morning to avoid scrutiny, manager Tony La Russa said.
McGwire, seventh on the career list with 554 home runs, believes he still has a chance of catching Hank Aaron's record of 755.
"Well, there's always that shot, sure, but it is still a long way off, a couple of hundred," McGwire said. "Quite a few years. I'd be thrilled to be standing here talking about it.
"And there would be quite a few more of you guys here."
McGwire hit only 32 home runs last year, after setting the major league record with 70 in 1998 and hitting 65 in 1999.
"Whatever I finish up with in my career, it's been a pretty good career considering the adversity I've gone through," McGwire said.
McGwire reiterated that if there's an extended strike or lockout next season, he might retire.
"Let's hope both sides use their common sense, use their minds and don't damage the game," McGwire said. "It would be the stupidest thing if owners and the ballplayers allow a strike to happen.
"If it does happen there's absolutely no chance the game of baseball will ever rebound ever again, so I think they all know that."