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McGwire under fire from many critics, including Busch IV

ST. LOUIS - A son of former Cardinals owner August Busch Jr. added to the growing wave of criticism surrounding the club's hiring of former first baseman Mark McGwire as hitting coach, lambasting the former single-season home run champion's "highly orchestrated apology" regarding steroid use during the majority of his playing career.

Adolphus A. Busch IV - in an eight-paragraph rebuke of McGwire, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and baseball commissioner Bud Selig - called into question McGwire's confession during Jan. 11 phone interviews with select print outlets, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and live on MLB Network with host Bob Costas.

"But has no one noticed? McGwire is not apologizing for his deceit, only for the embarrassment that came from his admission of having previously lied," read Busch's statement, distributed to St. Louis media Friday. "The timing of his announcement at the start of the new baseball season has allowed him to hide behind the frenzy of a new Cardinal season and the blinding faith of Cardinal loyalists."

Glenn Jamboretz, a spokesman for Busch, said Busch was moved by several recent incidents, beginning with McGwire's initial coming-out and his appearance last weekend at the team's annual Winter Warm-Up. A crush of fans gave McGwire a minute-long standing ovation at the Warm-Up last Sunday after booing former Redbirds first baseman Jack Clark, who earlier in the week advocated banning all users of performance-enhancing drugs from the game.

Hall of Fame players Carlton Fisk and Ferguson Jenkins and pending inductee Whitey Herzog have added their criticism since last weekend.

"McGwire has chosen to come out of the closet at the perfect time - alongside a manager who also refuses to be honest, to the fans or to the game itself," read Busch's statement, which also criticized La Russa for naming a hitting coach who carried "only" a career .263 average.

Busch's statement comes days after Fisk dismissed McGwire's assertion that steroids did not assist his successful pursuit of Roger Maris' single-season home run record. Fisk, who once played for La Russa with the Chicago White Sox, told the Chicago Tribune that McGwire's assertion that drugs did not help him hit home runs is "a crock" and obliquely criticized La Russa for lack of oversight.

"The people it should have been most obvious to are the people who covered it up by not addressing it," Fisk told the Tribune.

The night after attending the annual banquet hosted by the St. Louis chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Herzog told a gathering in Appleton, Wis., that he plans to avoid contact with McGwire. "I've got nothing to do with him," Herzog said. "I don't want to comment on steroids because they're all lying. And they're still lying."

This past week, Jenkins sent an open letter to The Associated Press calling on McGwire to apologize "to those you have harmed." Jenkins specifically cited pitchers as being victimized. "Mark McGwire chose to take performance-enhancing drugs nine of his 18 years in professional baseball," the statement continued. "He was paid millions while perpetrating a fraud. So how is it MLB commissioner Bud Selig gives him a pass and welcomes McGwire back to the very game he betrayed?"

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