Not long after the St. Louis Cardinals hired Mark McGwire as hitting coach, general manager John Mozeliak began to worry that he might have to find a replacement. He said Saturday that he began preparing an "exit strategy" while the team waited for McGwire to address the issue of steroids.
McGwire was hired in late October but waited about 21/2 months before admitting this past week that he used performance-enhancing drugs as a player.
"I had lots of concerns," Mozeliak said. "I had concerns on what actually would be said and how it would be said. There were times I did think it might not happen."
The former home run king will make his first public appearance in St. Louis since the hire at the team's Winter Warm-Up Sunday. He'll be on stage at a hotel near Busch Stadium fielding questions from fans and the media.
Judging from Mozeliak's hourlong session with fans Saturday, McGwire figures to get a warm public reception. No one questioned the hire and the GM spent more time discussing his thoughts about a fifth starter, a contract extension for Albert Pujols and his options at third base.
"A lot of St. Louis sports fans have forgiven players," said Larry Waugh of St. Louis, who wore a Cardinals cap and jersey to the program. "They can forgive Mark McGwire, too."
Kemp, Jenks sign
Matt Kemp and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed Friday to a two-year, $10.95-million contract, avoiding salary arbitration. Kemp batted .297 with 26 homers and 101 RBIs last season. He stole 34 bases, won his first Gold Glove in centerfield and improved upon almost all of his offensive statistics from 2008 . . . The Chicago White Sox have avoided salary arbitration with two of their top players, agreeing to a one-year, $7.5-million contract with closer Bobby Jenks and a one-year, $3.2-million deal with outfielder Carlos Quentin.
Texas Rangers near sale
The group that has been in exclusive negotiations to buy the Texas Rangers says it is close to a deal. Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, currently president of the Rangers, said "extraordinary progress" had been made the last couple of weeks.