Posted: 13 minutes ago
SAN DIEGO (AP) - Jose Canseco returned to baseball Thursday when he agreed to a contract with the independent San Diego Surf Dawgs, planning to be their designated hitter and - get this - pitch.
The deal comes some 16 months after Canseco attracted Congress' attention with an autobiography, "Juiced," that accused several top players of steroid use.
In March 2005, he testified before the House Government Reform committee that he used performance-enhancing drugs as a player.
The Golden Baseball League announced the agreement Thursday night, saying the former AL MVP and Rookie of the Year will make his Surf Dawgs debut Monday night on the road against the Chico Outlaws - one day after his 42nd birthday.
A call to Canseco's cell phone got this message:
"Hello, Jose Canseco. I have lost my cell phone. If you can, please leave a number when you call. Thank you."
The six-time All-Star, who in 1993 blew out his right elbow during his only big league pitching appearance, will be playing for the league maximum of $2,500 per month.
Canseco's lawyer, Robert Saunooke, told The Associated Press that the GBL contacted Canseco. A few years ago, the slugger said he was being blackballed and kept out of major league baseball.
He hit 462 home runs in a 17-year career with Oakland, Texas, Boston, Toronto, Tampa Bay, the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox.
"Jose's been playing in a summer league, a semipro league in the L.A. area, and he's hit a whole bunch of back-to-back home runs," Saunooke said. "He's knocked the ball out of the park. He's still a very talented athlete. He never stopped being a talented athlete."
The GBL is essentially baseball's lowest rung. Rickey Henderson played for the Surf Dawgs last year as he tried to attract the attention of a big league team.
Canseco, once one of baseball's most-feared hitters - and one of its most colorful figures, on and off the field - hasn't played in the big leagues since 2001 with the Chicago White Sox, who purchased his contract from the independent Newark Bears.
He hit 462
"I'm looking forward to having fun in professional baseball again, as I've really missed it," Canseco said in the Surf Dawgs' news release. "I love what this league is doing for players, communities and families, and I want to be part of it. Rickey had a great experience with the Surf Dawgs last year and it will be great playing for Terry Kennedy and reminding him of the stomping my A's gave his Giants in the '89 World Series."
The GBL said Canseco has agreed to be subjected to its drug-testing policy "that immediately expels any players found using steroids or illegal drugs." The league said nine players, out of more than 200 tested, were tossed for illegal drug use last year.
"Jose will be treated consistent with all of our players regarding drug testing," GBL commissioner Kevin Outchalt said.
In his autobiography, Canseco said he used steroids and introduced them to several other big league sluggers, including Oakland teammate Mark McGwire. Canseco wrote that he injected McGwire with steroids.
In a 2005 interview on the CBS television show "60 Minutes," Canseco also said he injected Rafael Palmeiro with steroids.
The GBL said Canseco weighs 230 pounds, down from his big league playing days.
The news release announcing the deal said Canseco will be the DH "and will showcase his knuckleball as a member of the team's pitching staff."
Canseco made one big league pitching appearance, working the final inning for the Texas Rangers in a 15-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox on May 29, 1993. He walked the bases loaded and allowed three runs and two hits. He threw 12 strikes and 21 balls, most of which were far from the strike zone.
But he tore a ligament in his elbow, ending his season. He said he felt a sharp pain in his elbow on his second pitch but stayed in and threw 31 more pitches.
Kennedy, the Surf Dawgs' manager, said he's excited to have Canseco "for both his playing abilities and for his veteran leadership. We can use his offensive power to get us into the playoffs to defend our title, and I'm very interested in seeing him pitch to see if he can help us there as well."
Said GBL president Amit Patel: "We strive to provide a high quality entertainment product, and Jose will undoubtedly be entertaining for our fans."
Canseco was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1986 and MVP in 1988, when he hit 42 homers, drove in 124 runs and stole 40 bases to lead the A's to the World Series, where they were upset by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
That season, Canseco became the first player in major league history to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases.