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Monday, December 7, 2009
Herzog: No surprise if McGwire bails

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- Whitey Herzog wouldn't be surprised if Mark McGwire changed his mind and decided not to become the St. Louis Cardinals' batting coach.

The 78-year-old Herzog said he wants the controversial move to work out for Big Mac, manager Tony La Russa and the team he managed to three World Series in an era known as "Whiteyball."

Herzog, speaking Monday at a news conference to mark his election to the Hall of Fame, added that McGwire must be candid about his involvement in baseball's steroids era and La Russa must be patient with that line of questioning.

Herzog I really want it to work out for the Cardinals, but I don't know. And we won't until we see how Mark reacts to all of this.

-- Hall of Famer-to-be Whitey Herzog
on Mark McGwire as hitting coach

"He's going to be asked questions about steroids, he's going to be asked so many things, and he's got to be open and he's got to answer," Herzog said. "And Tony can't get mad about it. He's got to put up with it."

The Cardinals announced the McGwire hire in late October on the same day La Russa agreed to a one-year contract extension. McGwire has not yet met with members of the media.

Herzog believes McGwire has a chance to be a good instructor because he was an intelligent player. But he added he's wondered at times whether McGwire will decide the job is not worth the trouble.

"I really want it to work out for the Cardinals, but I don't know," Herzog said. "And we won't until we see how Mark reacts to all of this.

"Sometimes I say 'Maybe he's still not going to do it, maybe he's going to wake up one morning and say 'I don't want to go through it.' "

Herzog told reporters the scrutiny would be worst on the road.

"It's going to be tough because Mark has to open up and he has to be real open with the press," Herzog said. "If he don't, it's not going to be the fans and you guys in St. Louis as much as it's going to be going to Cincinnati, going to Pittsburgh, going to Philadelphia, going to New York."

Always outspoken, Herzog also weighed in on the Cardinals' attempts to sign free agent outfielder Matt Holliday. He said the Cardinals shouldn't overpay for talent.

"They could win the division without Holliday," Herzog said. "You can't commit suicide in baseball. Sign one contract that's bad, you're going to suffer, so you've got to be careful."

Herzog had a bigger issue going into the Hall of Fame with umpire Doug Harvey, a longtime nemesis. He said he vividly remembers Harvey ignoring Herzog's advice that a downpour was coming before one game and refusing to bring out the tarpaulin until too late.

"It wasn't balls and strikes, it wasn't safe or out, it wasn't fair or foul," Herzog said of Harvey. "He just wouldn't listen."

Herzog managed three World Series teams in the 1980s, but won one title in 1982. The Cardinals were closing in on a second in 1985 before umpire Don Denkinger's missed call in Game 6 turned the World Series around and the Royals ultimately won.

Herzog remembers Denkinger shrugging, palms-out, although he thought Denkinger was a good umpire.

"If an umpire boots a play, you'll generally get it evened up somewhere down the line," Herzog said. "But not in the sixth game of a World Series when you're winning 1-0 in the eighth inning, and 160 million people knew he was out and they didn't have instant replay."

Herzog said his team was to blame, too, because the Cardinals scored only 14 runs the entire series.