No All-Star Game For Woozy McGwire
By: David Bush, Chronicle Staff Writer
SF Chronicle - July 10, 1995 - Mark McGwire, who suffered a concussion Saturday when he was hit in the head by a David Cone pitch, was more comfortable yesterday after a night's rest but hardly in a forgiving mood.
He was not available for the game yesterday and was forced to withdraw from the All-Star Game tomorrow night in Arlington, Texas. Just when the A's can expect him back is anybody's guess.
``That is the first time I have been close to being knocked out,'' the A's first baseman said before yesterday's 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays (story on Page E7). ``And it wasn't pleasurable. . . . I feel better than I did yesterday (Saturday), but I'm still not totally there.''
Immediately after he was hit, McGwire staggered a few steps, then fell to his knees. After a few minutes he wobbled to the clubhouse with the assistance of trainer Barry Weinberg.
``The only thing I remember is getting on all fours,'' McGwire said. ``I hazily remember walking to the clubhouse. . . . I was almost knocked out. There is no question in my mind that if I hadn't almost been knocked out, David Cone wouldn't have finished the game.''
Does this signal a new attitude from McGwire, who has been known to accept being hit with a pitch by shrugging and walking to first?
``I am not going to say publicly what I'm going to do,'' he said. ``But I'm tired of it.''
McGwire has been hit eight times this year, including five times in the previous 23 games.
Manager Tony La Russa agrees that the A's have a right to retaliate when their leading power hitter is de-commissioned, but he does not feel the player should take matters into his own hands -- at least not by charging the mound.
``The problem is the league deals with that,'' said La Russa of mound assaults, ``and it's usually a fine or suspension. We don't encourage that.''
Not to say that La Russa feels sins like Cone's should go unpunished. ``You have certain things you can do to protect your players, things that have been done since the game was invented,'' he said. ``But I don't want to get into them.''
The manager does feel that baseball authorities can adopt measures to prevent pitchers hitting batters above the shoulders.
``When someone is hit in the head, there is no excuse,'' La Russa said, repeating a familiar theme of his. ``A major league pitcher should have command below the shoulders. Pitching inside is part of the game, but if a batter's hit in the head, it should be an automatic month's suspension without pay.''
Cone's disclaimer that the beaning was unintentional did little to soothe feelings in the Oakland clubhouse.
``I don't think it matters if it was intentional or not,'' said McGwire. ``The fact is he hit me in the head. It's like a drunk driver saying he didn't mean to hit the little kid who was crossing the street.''
And La Russa wasn't even buying Cone's explanation. ``He might not have wanted to hit him in the head, but I think he threw the pitch exactly where he wanted to throw it, hoping the guy would duck it,'' said La Russa. ``He had command yesterday, he pitched into the ninth inning and didn't walk anybody. I don't mean he threw every pitch in the exact spot he wanted, but he had good control.''
McGwire was still holding out some hope yesterday morning that he would be able to at least make the trip to Texas and participate in the All-Star festivities. But the A's medical staff quickly nixed that and sent him home during the game.
``It is dangerous to travel by plane with a head injury, because of the changes in cabin pressure,'' said Weinberg. ``He was sorry he couldn't go, but we all wanted to do the right thing.''
Weinberg spent Saturday night at McGwire's house, waking him every two hours to check on his vital signs. ``The first 18 to 24 hours after a concussion are critical,'' said Weinberg. ``He had to be watched closely. He was a lot more stable today.''
The trainer did not rule out McGwire's playing on Wednesday, when the A's host the Jays again, but La Russa was not optimistic.
``I don't have high expectations that he will be ready on Wednesday,'' said La Russa. ``We are not the same team without him in the lineup, but we are not going to rush to get him back in there. We are going to be very careful.''
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