Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 5/23/13
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FORT WORTH, Texas - Jose Canseco, the disgraced former American League Most valuable player and admitted steroid user, is still trying to remain with the game that made him famous. But now Canseco, 48, has a much different role in baseball than he did when he was hitting tape-measure home runs as a member of Oakland's famed Bash Brothers. Now Canseco is much like the San Diego Chicken or Max Patkin were, a sideshow baseball draw. That show took Canseco to Fort Worth Thursday where he began an eight-game stint at a player-coach for the Fort Worth Cats, a team in the independent United League baseball. Canseco, wearing the familiar No. 33 and batting third as the designated hitter for Fort Worth, still has the bulking 6-4 frame that made him famous. He also still speaks with the same candor he did as a player, addressing everything from his role in cleaning up major league baseball, his blackballing from the game and recent sexual abuse allegations, which he firmly denied. "I think you guy have to realize one thing I don't have to rape a woman," Canseco said. "I think it's ridiculous. We're putting together polygraph examinations and trust in me, the truth will always come out. And when I do these polygraphs, it's almost laughable for an individual to say I raped them and drugged them at the same time." Getting his name dragged into the news is nothing new for Canseco, whose baseball career was marked by steroid use, a World Series win and dating Madonna. But since his 2005 book "Juiced" came out in which Canseco talked about the widespread use of steroids in baseball, he said he's been blackballed from the majors. That's led to him taking gigs like the one in Fort Worth, where he'll make a pro-rated portion of the 2,000 a month a veteran in the league makes. That's a far cry from Canseco's biggest major deal a five year, 23.5-million pact. But he's still playing. "Because I'm crazy," Canseco said. "Don't you guys know that by now? If you guys by now don't know I love the game of baseball, you should know that by now. I will not let it go. I love the game. As long as can play the game in any way, shape or form, I'm going to play. It's that simple." Canseco hasn't played in more than a year and didn't pick up a bat until batting practice before Thursday's game at the old minor-league park of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He's still a draw too. Fans showed up for batting practice to try and get an autograph and the park was more than half full by the time Canseco took his first at-bat in the bottom of the first inning a strikeout which came after a he fouled a ball off deep to left field. While Canseco said he regretted taking steroids, he had no regrets about writing his tell-all book. He sees himself as responsible for cleaning up the game. The way he's been treated since then has taken some of the luster off his 17-year-career that included stops in Oakland, Texas, New York Yankees, Boston, Toronto, Tampa Bay and Chicago White Sox. "Sad because I'm just an outsider to them even though I thought I did a lot for the game, I cleaned it up completely, and guys it's real simple back then before I wrote that book, all they had to say to me was, Jose, help us clean up the game," said Canseco, who has 462 career homers. "I could've cleaned up the game in three months by myself because I'm the one who basically educated everybody and became successful in using steroids in the point in time. I would've gone to every club and said guys it's over. Stop it right now. That's it, we know what we're talking about, it's got to end. I could've cleaned the game by myself but Major League Baseball decided to do what? Use me as an example and get me out of the game to send a direct message to the players. When that happened, when I couldn't job at 36, players were coming up to me saying Jose you're being blackballed, watch out. The (Rafael) Palmeiros, the Alex Rodriguez's, the Alex Fernandez's were telling me this." Canseco said he had no contact with anyone in the majors anymore. He said he participated in an open tryout with the Los Angeles Dodgers in which he excelled only to have Tommy Lasorda end that bid by saying Canseco was out of shape. He said he made a team in Mexico but lost that job because the league was associated with the major leagues. So now Canseco is a barnstormer. He's still remarkably fit. He said he does no drugs but it heavy into nutrition, working out and avoiding any alcohol. Once his stint with the Cats is done, he's going to Curacao to talk to children about the importance of sports nutrition. He's also getting to spend a little time with family. His twin brother Ozzie manages the Edinburg team that the Cats played Thursday night. Ozzie's sympathetic towards his brother, but he's happy to see him back in baseball, even if it's more of a carnival act than baseball attraction. "Everyone can have their own opinion," Ozzie Canseco said. "They can look at it as a circus. Just come out and watch the circus and have a good time. It's entertainment. It's all entertainment. That's really what it is. You can call it baseball. You can call it a circus, whatever you like." Jose made it clear he just wants to play. He hasn't played baseball since 2001, when he was 37 and hitting 16 home runs for the White Sox. He said he thought he could have played 10 more years. He was a little disappointed he found out about the Cats deal so late because he would have liked to been involved in the team's spring training. But by first pitch Thursday, Canseco was content. "What is there not to love about baseball the grass, the dirt, the diamond, the mound, the outfield, the scoreboard, hitting home runs, the fans, the whole thing," Jose Canseco said. "What is there not to love about the game?"
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