Canseco sends HR drought over wall

May 20, 1992|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

When the subject is Jose Canseco, it is sometimes tough to judge whether the myth or the reality is bigger.

Sure, there's the late-night dalliance with Madonna and the 150-mph spin in the Porsche, as well as the well-publicized tiffs with his wife, Esther.

Those are a part of the Canseco legend, the stuff that makes him larger than life.

But the reality is that he can hit, and his bases-empty home run in the seventh inning last night gave the Oakland Athletics a two-run cushion they eventually used to beat the Orioles, 5-3.

Canseco, who is hitting just .228, had hit only one home run in his previous 96 at-bats. He has eight for the year.

"I told him [manager Tony La Russa] not to expect another home run until another 70 at-bats go by," said Canseco.

Canseco, who has 217 home runs in a little more than five seasons, has been in a pronounced power tailspin for reasons he can't quite comprehend.

"I don't think I've had a power drought like this," said Canseco. "It seems like I experience something new every year. I just have to stay strong."

Fortunately for Canseco, the rest of the Athletics lineup has been taking up the slack, thanks in large part to fellow Bash Brother Mark McGwire, who leads the majors with 17 homers.

Canseco left Sunday's game in New York in the second inning when he bruised his left knee against the outfield wall chasing a triple by Pat Kelly.

"It got a lot better [yesterday]. [Monday] was really bad, but [today] I should have no trouble," said Canseco.

Canseco says that even with his temporary power outage, he feels confident. "I'll tell you what. I'm seeing the ball great, but I just can't hit it. Maybe it's a weakness in my shoulder. Usually, when I'm seeing the ball that good, the home runs are flying and the pitchers have no chance," said Canseco.

Canseco's home run, which gave Oakland a 4-2 lead, came off a pitch from Storm Davis that appeared to come low and inside. Canseco lifted it to left field, just inside the foul pole.

"To hit that ball on that part of the plate and keep it fair, that takes a special talent," said La Russa.

Canseco often has to deal with verbal abuse from fans who congregate in the right-field bleachers to challenge the myth.

Take last night, for instance. Canseco said the folks in right at Camden Yards were about "average" in terms of their insults, but not original.

"They hit me with the same old stuff, you know, Madonna, stuff like that," said Canseco. "I'm looking for something new. A couple of guys shot me some moonies. Maybe I've got to do something new."

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