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It’s All About Baseball for Jose Canseco… No, Really

Saturday, June 02, 2012

 

Jose Canseco taking batting practice with the Tornadoes.

When Jose Canseco signed with the Worcester Tornadoes just over a month ago, the expected circus came with him.

Outlets from across the state, and beyond, crowded into Ritual on Main St. to catch a glimpse of the still-hulking slugger as he put on a Tornado jersey for the first time. Canseco was all smiles during his introduction, but never answered, at least to anyone’s satisfaction, the question that proved to be the proverbial elephant in the room.

What the heck is he doing here?

“People have addictions and vices, and I think my addiction is baseball,” Canseco told GoLocalWorcester that day. “It makes me feel young, it’s what I love doing and it’s where I belong. I think on my tombstone, I don’t even want them to put my name. Just ‘baseball player.’”

There it was, in the convoluted and somewhat asinine prose that Canseco is known for, the reason the 1988 American League MVP is in Worcester. Over the last month, Canseco has given his fans, and haters,  reason to doubt that. From his now famous twitter handle, Canseco claimed he will start a membership website where fans can speak to him directly and mentioned that he wants to run for public office.

When Canseco still had the spotlight, however briefly that was, he seemed to revel in it. But now, standing for on-camera interview in a patch of unkempt grass behind Fitton Field, Canseco looks to be tired of it all. Reporters have come to Worcester and proclaimed Canseco the “Phantom of Baseball.” Just before that, a popular sports blog called Canseco out for hitting on a local waitress.

Canseco talking baseball with GoLocalWorcester.

“How can I not read it, it’s thrust into my face every day,” Canseco said of mocking articles from sites like Deadspin. “People have to understand that twitter is a form of entertainment, there’s nothing serious about it… It’s a lot of fun, I like to see how people react to what I say.”

But now, as he discusses the fundamentals of power hitting and his struggles to find any kind of rhythm, Canseco seems more willing to talk baseball than mug for a camera or promote a website.

Canseco is currently batting around .200 with a pair of doubles, but you don’t care. Whether Canseco is mashing out home runs, or taking multiple strikeouts a game, he is still a story. Only now, a month after arriving in Worcester, he’s not. Well, not on the scale he’s used to.

You won’t hear Canseco complain about this. In fact, most of Canseco’s gripes these days are directed at CanAm umpires.

“I’m still trying to figure out the pitching here, still in spring training mode,” Canseco said. “The strike zone… I’ve actually never seen such a low and away strike zone consistently called on tall hitters. I'm typically a high-ball hitter, so it's been a struggle for me.”

And that’s where Canseco’s head appears to be now, in baseball. Roger Clemens? Don’t even ask.

“I like how you said that you had to ask it,” Canseco says with a laugh. “No, you don’t have to ask me anything. The only thing you have to do is die and pay taxes, that’s about it.”

What about still being a story, despite not playing in the majors for over a decade?

“It’s interesting. It’s interesting that people still find me interesting,” Canseco said. “After 11 or 12 years out of the game, I guess I tend to stay relevant. People are curious about me.”

So, with shots coming at him from all sides, what has bothered Canseco the most about his time in Worcester?

“(Worcester)’s been great, except for the weather,” Canseco said. “I like it here a lot, but it seems like it’s always raining, and we can’t get into any rhythm. It’s a whole lot of fun though.”

Now 47, Canseco insists he is doing everything he can to get back to the basics of hitting. While many thought he would go away the second the spotlight shifted, Canseco is hanging around and, from what he says, is enjoying Worcester's night life. He even stole a pair of bases in Worcester’s Thursday win over the Newark Bears.

As for the post-baseball life of Jose Canseco, he says don’t count on him revealing anything else about steroids or Clemens in a new book. Well, for now.

“I don’t know if I’m going to have a third book,” Canseco said with a smile. “I know people really want me to write one, but no more juicy stuff. Go to my twitter, it’s all there.” 

 

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