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Canseco waits for elusive call

Jose Canseco says he has a tryout with the Dodgers on March 1.

MARC TOPKIN
Published February 22, 2004

Vinny Castilla got his old job back as Rockies third baseman. Greg Vaughn got invited to the Cardinals camp with a shot at the leftfield job. And when Fred McGriff got a chance to come to camp on a minor-league deal with the Devil Rays, the remaining member of Tampa Bay's failed Hit Show could only chuckle.

And sigh.

"I've got to get me anywhere," Jose Canseco said.

Canseco, 39, has been out of the game since 2001, an exile that was not choice but not necessarily devoid of his own doing either, given his legal problems, steroid-related issues and threats to write a tell-all book.

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He says he is happy McGriff got another chance to come home and extend his career, but he sure sounded jealous, too.

"I thought maybe they'd give me a chance," Canseco said.

Canseco desperately wants one. He has been saying he'd like to go back to the Rays, claiming he'd play for the minimum and donate the money to charity and insist on going into the Hall of Fame as a Ray after he got the 38 homers he needs for 500, but that's not going to happen. He can make similar pleas to other teams, but doesn't know if they're listening.

"It's out of my hands," he said.

Until then, he waits. His legal problems apparently resolved, Canseco has left Miami and moved to Encino, Calif. He is getting heavily involved in martial arts training. He supposedly has signed a lucrative deal to star in a series of action films. He is still hosting "Spend-a-Day-With-Jose" events. He is still working on the book, but says he'll withhold publication if he gets signed.

He has been working out feverishly in Los Angeles and claims to be in "the best shape" of his career. He is even taking ground balls and says - no kidding - he could step in and play first or third base. ("Come check it out," he boasts.) He says he has a tryout with the Dodgers on March 1 in Vero Beach. He is 100 percent sure he could again be an impact player in the big leagues.

"There's absolutely no doubt," he said, "I could hit 50 homers."

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RAYS RUMBLINGS: The extra bench players and relievers the Rays have accumulated could come in handy at the end of spring training. If there are no injuries, expect the Rays to look to package a deal for a starting pitcher. ... The sale of 48 percent of the team to Stuart Sternberg remains on track for a March closing. ... An enhanced sponsorship with Boston Market is in the works. ... ESPN's Jayson Stark on Lou Piniella's promise the Rays won't finish last: "I think Lou Piniella is going to add two more words to his guarantee at some point, ... "Just kidding.' They may be better, but I just can't figure out who they're going to beat." ... Baseball America ranks Doug Waechter 18th on its list of top 20 rookies. ... Managing general partner Vince Naimoli is due back this week from an MLB goodwill trip to Europe.

EX-RAYS FILE: Joe Kennedy arrived in Rockies camp saying he "just didn't get any breaks" in his 3-12, 6.13 ERA season and now (now?) thinks the key to success is throwing more fastballs.

The Rockies expect him to come back strong.

"We researched this thing, we talked to more people and we feel this was just a young kid that was misdirected - by himself as much as anything," manager Clint Hurdle told MLB.com. "He was brought up early. He was a young man in the big leagues at an early age, and speaking from experience that's a very daunting thing to accomplish. Then you throw a little success on top of it and now you think you're Superman."

Former shortstop Kevin Stocker is doing commentary for the College Sports TV cable network.

COSTLY MISTAKE: The chain of events that led to Alex Rodriguez becoming a Yankee started with some guys in a small California gym seeking another man for a pickup basketball game.

"I never play anymore," third baseman Aaron Boone told Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News. "I went to the gym to do some wind sprints and some cardiovascular things."

But when Boone, who probably was good enough to play Division I college basketball, was asked if he wanted to join the game, he said yes - even though his contract prohibits it. "A ball was going out of bounds and I tried to save it, flick it up court to somebody else," Boone said. "A guy running behind me blindsided me. I knew it hurt and it was violent."

The result was a torn ACL that will require six-eight months of rehab and cost him his job, more than $4-million in salary, and probably the rest of his Yankees career. But it did make a little history.

TAKE THAT: The Astros and Cubs have assembled two of the top rotations in the game, but Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan doesn't sound impressed.

"You look at the Cubs' rotation, and, yes, that looks real good," Duncan told the Post-Dispatch. "You look at the Astros', and that looks real good. But everybody's got their warts. If our guys are healthy, I like our starting rotation."

AND THAT: Ken Griffey Jr. knows from their days in Seattle how big of a deal A-Rod can be, but even he was tired of the trade talk.

"I don't care what anybody says, A-Rod is not as big as Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning the Daytona 500," Griffey said. "They can talk for days and days about A-Rod, but there was nothing bigger than Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning the Daytona 500."

MISCELLANY: Since he couldn't live on his yacht like he did last spring with the Marlins in Jupiter, Pudge Rodriguez drove to the Tigers' Lakeland camp in his $200,000 Bentley. ... Griffey showed up in Sarasota in a new Aston-Martin. ... Who says Buck Showalter is a control freak? The Rangers are planning to close the first hour of workouts to fans and media. ... The third year of Greg Maddux's three-year, $24-million deal with the Cubs is voidable if he doesn't pitch 400 innings over the first two. ... Alfonso Soriano told the Rangers he wants to stay at second base rather than move to centerfield.

- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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