McGwire Expects To Be Good As New

by Bo Mitchell - Senior Editor,
Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Two and a half hours a day, five days a week. That's Mark McGwire's rehab schedule to get his knee back to full strength.

McGwire underwent surgery to repair severe patellar tendonitis in his knee three months ago, but thanks to his strenuous workout regimen he should be ready to resume baseball-related activities this week.

He told the St. Louis Post Dispatch: "Walking around, I feel like I'm 100 percent. As far as playing baseball, I don't know yet…But everything feels really good. I don't foresee any major problems."

Cardinals hitters report to spring training February 20 and the plan is for McGwire to take it pretty easy.

Should fantasy baseballers be skeptical of a 37-year-old player coming off knee surgery after missing virtually half the previous season? Absolutely. But McGwire isn't just any player. As long as he's able to pivot in the batter's box, drive off the knee with some power, and play in the field, there should be no reason why he couldn't come back as strong as ever.

His game (12 career steals, six career triples) isn't exactly built around speed. Mark doesn't need the knee to wreak havoc on the basepaths; he just wants to get back to launching tape-measure home runs.

We wouldn't put anything past him.

McGwire says he really wants to sign a contract extension and finish his career in St. Louis; his current deal expires after the upcoming season. Ideally, he would also like to play until he's 40. And at 201 home runs short of Hank Aaron's all-time record (755 to 554), it sure would be cool to see him make a run for the next three years.

This of course raises the question of what would happen to his pursuit of the home run mark in the event of a work stoppage at the end of the upcoming season. Previously, McGwire has been very vocal about his plans to walk away from the game if another lockout or strike took place, but it seems he has softened his stance a bit.

He recognizes the high probability of a work stoppage and has restated his intention of retiring if there is another work stoppage—but only for an extended period of time. If the strike or lockout only lasts a few days or a week, McGwire would consider staying in the game.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of any work stoppage lasting just a week seems remote. Fantasy players, enjoy McGwire's mammoth blasts while you can. Watch him during spring training and see how the knee reacts. One more year of 50-plus homers should be expected if it holds up.

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