St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa can envision a late-season situation in the 2010 season in which he goes to his bench for a pinch-hitter, and calls on Mark McGwire to step to the plate.
Yes, the same Mark McGwire who is taking over as the Cards' hitting coach this year.
Speaking to the Contra Costa Times while in Walnut Creek, California for a charity event, LaRussa says it isn't impossible that the 46-year old former slugger could step back to the plate if the opportunity presents itself.
"If we're in contention, we'll put him on the roster Aug. 31. It's a nice little dream," La Russa told the newspaper.
"Is it likely? Probably not. I don't think it's a zero possibility. The point is, you'll see him in spring training. He won't be leaning on the batting cage chatting it up. He'll work his (butt) off, and hitters will be thrilled he's there helping them," added LaRussa.
McGwire has rarely been seen in public since he refused to answer questions relating to performance-enhancing drug use during testimony in front of Congress in 2005. He also did not address the media when he was named Cardinals hitting coach in late October. His first appearance in front of a scrum will happen at spring training.
Despite sitting eighth on the all-time list with 583 home runs, McGwire has received no more than 23.7 percent of the vote in any of the four chances he has had to qualify for the Baseball Hall of Fame. 75 percent is required for election.
"At least he didn't go backward," La Russa told the newspaper in regard to his Hall of Fame results. "Hopefully now he'll get back (in voters' good graces) where he's out working again."
But despite McGwire's lack of popularity among Hall of Fame voters, LaRussa is excited about what the former slugger will bring to the Cardinals' organization.
"The real story is when people — those who are fair, whether that's media or fans — see this guy at the cage at 7 in the morning to 7 at night, they'll see his work ethic and be, 'Wow!', said LaRussa.
"He's so enthused about this hitting (coach) thing. I know intimately what he teaches, and that's one reason I'm excited about him getting out and sharing it. It's very straightforward...I put my credibility with him. I believe it will work."