Mark McGwire’s advice to young players about PEDs: “Yeah, don’t do it”

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New Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire gave an interview to Fox Sports Radio on the art of hitting, his new gig with the Dodgers and, or course, his history with PEDs.

McGwire was asked about what he would tell today’s players who ask him about PEDs:

“Yeah, don’t do it. Use your head. It’s a mistake that I have to live with for the rest of my life. I have to deal with never, ever getting into the Hall-of-Fame. I totally understand and totally respect their opinion and I will never, ever push it. That is the way it’s going to be and I can live with that. One of the hardest things I had to do this year was sit down with my nine and ten year old boys and tell them what dad did. That was a really hard thing to do but I did it. They understood as much as a nine or ten year old could. It’s just something, if any ball player ever came up to me, run away from it. It’s not good. Run away from it.”

That’s the no-brainer advice now that there is a testing and penalty program in place that — if you believe the groundswell about the penalties not being big enough — will only get tougher and could drum you right out of the game quickly.

I’d be curious, however, as his boys get older, if McGwire will explain the cost-benefit analysis that existed pre-2004. When there was no testing and, if anything, defacto encouragement from fans, the league, the advertisers and even the media for players to juice up.

Because say what you want about the ethics of what McGwire did, and say what you want about how they have ruined his legacy as a baseball player, but the fact remains that McGwire sat down in a much larger, more expensive house to tell his boys about what he did than he would have been able to if he had been forced out of the game due to injury and ineffectiveness in the early-to-mid 90s, as it appeared he might have been had he not suddenly become a much stronger, healthier and bigger player after that.

To be clear, this is not an endorsement of PED use. It’s just a statement of fact based on the incentive structure in place prior to 2004. And its an incentive structure that can’t be ignored when we cast judgment on those players who used PEDs in that time frame.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.