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Reds’ Larkin retires, joins Nationals’ staff

 (The Spokesman-Review)
Larkin (The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press

Shortstop Barry Larkin, a 12-time All-Star who spent his entire 19-year career with the Cincinnati Reds, has retired and joined the Washington Nationals in their front office as a special assistant.

“I just felt it was time,” Larkin said when reached Sunday at his home in Orlando, Fla. “I had some opportunities with other teams to play, but I didn’t feel that I could make the commitment as a player with another team.”

The Reds, his hometown team, had rejected his overtures to return for a 20th season, deciding to turn the position over to younger players.

“While his tasks and challenges will be different than he experienced as a player, Barry’s presence coupled with an eagerness to be involved in all facets of our operations will undoubtedly yield positive results for both Barry and the Nationals,” Washington general manager Jim Bowden said in a statement Sunday.

Larkin, 40, said he had been interested in working in a team’s front office and perhaps eventually managing a team and that his new position would allow him to gain necessary experience. He also said joining a new organization appealed to him.

“I just thought that this was a way for me to get some exposure with a front office and do some things that I may possibly want to do in the future,” he said.

Larkin’s 19-year tenure with the Reds was the longest streak among active players who had been with just one team.

Over 2,180 games, he hit .295 with 441 doubles, 76 triples, 198 home runs, 960 RBI and 379 stolen bases. He helped the team win the World Series in 1990 and was National League MVP in 1995.

Canseco’s career was steroid dependent

Jose Canseco says he and fellow slugger Mark McGwire were never “buddy buddies” as teammates on the Oakland Athletics, but had at least one thing in common that they talked about regularly: using steroids.

Canseco also admits in an interview with “60 Minutes” that he would never have been a major league-caliber player without using the drugs.

“I don’t recommend steroids for everyone and I don’t recommend growth hormones for everyone,” Canseco tells Mike Wallace. “But for certain individuals, I truly believe, because I’ve experimented with it for so many years, that it can make an average athlete a super athlete. It can make a super athlete incredible. Just legendary.”

The interview was broadcast Sunday on CBS, one day before the release of Canseco’s book, “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big.”

Canseco said he and McGwire weren’t close, but often injected together and treated the subject of steroids as casual shop-talk.

McGwire, who has repeatedly denied steroid use, said in a statement to the television news magazine: “Once and for all I did not use steroids nor any illegal substance. The relationship that these allegations portray couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Canseco also told Wallace that steroids give athletes an edge besides increased size and strength. “A lot of it is psychological,” he said. “I mean, you really believe you have an edge. You feel the strength and stamina.”

Canseco also says he introduced steroids to former Texas Rangers teammates Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez. All have publicly denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

“I injected them. Absolutely,” Canseco said.

Clearing the bases

The Nationals acquired outfielder Alex Escobar from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for minor league outfielder Jerry Owens. … Ben Sheets and Milwaukee agreed to a $6 million, one-year contract, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing.

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