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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 17, 2010

NBA: Mark McGwire arrives at spring training

AP Sports Writer

JUPITER, Fla. Mark McGwire is back in the major leagues.

The St. Louis Cardinals' new batting instructor showed up early on Wednesday, the reporting date for pitchers and catchers. McGwire arrived at Roger Dean Stadium toting a couple of bags and received applause from a handful of autograph seekers as he climbed out of an SUV.

He asked a group of reporters, "Where do I go?" and mistakenly turned into the media room before finding the correct door. He didn't take any questions.

About an hour later, McGwire was in uniform working with several hitters in the batting cage and got about 15 minutes extra time when manager Tony La Russa was a late arrival for a staff meeting.

The 46-year-old McGwire returned to baseball about a month after admitting he used steroids and human growth hormone during his time as baseball's home run king in the late 1990s.

The team has been optimistic that McGwire will be able to focus on his coaching duties, though some have questioned his assertion that steroids allowed him to heal from injuries but did not boost his power. His public appearances have been carefully managed and it wasn't immediately clear whether the Cardinals planned a news conference for McGwire.

The interest in hearing more from Big Mac is there: Three TV crews, a half-dozen photographers and a dozen or more reporters were on hand as McGwire worked with David Freese, Joe Mather and Skip Schumaker, the leadoff hitter.

Schumaker, who has worked with McGwire in the offseason since 2005, had been hoping that McGwire's arrival would not disrupt spring training for the NL Central champions.

"It's up to you guys, it's up to the media," he told The Associated Press. "If they want it to be a circus it can be a circus, but it doesn't distract us."

McGwire was given his old jersey. No. 25 hasn't been used since McGwire retired after the 2001 season.