Jose Canseco in Lexington for 'Home Run Derby'

mmaloney@herald-leader.comJuly 11, 2014 

  • Hagerstown Suns at Legends

    When: 7:05 p.m. Saturday

    Radio: WLXG-AM 1300

Jose Canseco still has what it takes to hit bombs.

But so does Lexington Legends Manager Brian Buchanan.

Buchanan belted 15 homers to lead a group of eight Lexington celebrities and fans to a 20-15 victory over Canseco in a "Home Run Derby" before Friday's game against the Hagerstown Suns. WKYT-TV sports anchor Brian Milam, a former Morehead State player, contributed three homers for the winning team.

Buchanan, a former big-leaguer, retired as a player after the 2009 season.

Canseco's visit to Whitaker Bank Ballpark is part of a 16,500-mile, 10-week, 17-city barnstorming tour of Canada and the United States. He has a 40-foot custom RV known as the CansecoMobile to transport him from city to city. (Next stop: Fort Worth on Tuesday.)

Canseco, 50, hit 462 home runs over 17 seasons in the major leagues. He won both a Rookie of the Year and MVP award in the American League.

What fans of the game may know him most for, though, is his admitted use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). In 2005, he authored a book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big. In the book, he claimed that a wide majority of big-league players use steroids.

Canseco thinks his book "changed the game for the better, for sure."

Yet, he has regrets.

When he wrote the book, he described himself as an outcast from the game.

"To be honest, I (wrote the book) for the wrong reasons," Canseco said. "I was mad at Major League Baseball for what they did to me, and I truly regret writing this book because I implicated a lot of my fellow teammates, for sure."

He also regrets using PEDs, he said.

"In hindsight, everybody regrets it. Absolutely," he said. "But I think people have to understand that, in my era anyways, there were no rules and regulations against it. Major League Baseball never had meetings and said, 'We don't want you using PEDs.' As a matter of fact, when I was using it, I was educating everyone else, even trainers on how to get players off the disabled list to get them on the field, and there was no problem with that whatsoever."

Based on annual voting for the Hall of Fame, Canseco and other implicated PED users remain untouchables.

He doesn't think that's right.

"PEDs are in the same category as cocaine, marijuana and amphetamines — greenies," Canseco said. "How many players pre-PED era used those chemicals before a game or before an at-bat? Many. And a lot of those players are in the Hall of Fame. Were they cheating? Absolutely. Another thing is this: if 90 percent of the league is using PEDs, it's not cheating. It's an even playing field. What they should categorize it as is just the Steroid Era, period."

Canseco says his past use of PEDs makes it necessary to continue doing so.

"I'm on testosterone therapy because I used testosterone for such a long time," he said. "I did a reality show called Jose Canseco: Last Shot ... where I actually tried to get off the testosterone. My levels were like 85, extremely low, and endocrinologists from the University of Miami had to put me on testosterone therapy to make my testosterone levels equal in my system."

He thinks baseball has cleaned up its act.

"I think with the fines that players have nowadays and with the game suspensions, you'd have to be pretty dumb to use chemicals nowadays," Canseco said. "Especially with the salaries they're paying these players. ... I definitely don't think anyone at this point is using chemicals. If they are, they shouldn't be in baseball. It's just ridiculous. I think at the present time the game is as clean as it's ever been of all substances."

Meanwhile in the game, Hagerstown pushed across a run in the second, third and fourth innings, adding two in the fifth en route to a 5-0 victory over the Legends.

David Masters had three of the Suns' 11 hits.

Nick Pivetta (11-5) blanked the Legends on three hits over six innings, striking out seven, before turning things over to Justin Thomas.

Fred Ford had two of the Legends' six hits.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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