Canseco to manage Scorpions
After three years of different measures that haven't helped brighten the attendance numbers for the Yuma Scorpions, North American League president Kevin Outcalt is trying a high-wattage solution.
Outcalt said the league is set to announce today that Jose Canseco will be named manager of the Scorpions and will play for the team. His twin brother Ozzie will be bench coach, hitting coach and also play.
“I think it's exciting for Yuma,” Outcalt said. “It's going to be a lot of fun. Jose is a very accomplished player, he has a lot of sway in the media and in pop culture, and he's bringing that to the city. It will be a good team and a fun time at Desert Sun Stadium for the fans.”
Canseco, who hit 462 home runs in 17 seasons in the big leagues, played and managed in Laredo last year under general manager Jose Melendez, who the Scorpions announced as GM on Saturday.
“There's the close relationship he has with Jose Melendez,” Outcalt said. “He played for him last year in Laredo, and there was a lot of interest to continue to work with him. Also, we've had Jose in the league before in 2006 (with the Long Beach Armada). He's very good with the community and the fans.”
Canseco should raise interest in the Scorpions, who have seen their attendance drop over the past three seasons and rumors fly about the team leaving Yuma. The team is owned by Diamond Sports and Entertainment, which had ownership stakes in the former Golden Baseball League and the current North American League, which was formed this winter when United League Baseball, Northern League and GBL merged.
Canseco previously played with the Long Beach Armada until leaving the team halfway through the 2006 season. The league sued and won more than $250,000 from Canseco. Outcalt said that incident is in the past.â€¨“I think the difference is he's now the manager of a team,” Outcalt said. “He realizes he's in a full-time management position opposed to being a player on a team. He's very ready at this point in his career to smoothly transition to managing.”
The Scorpions have employed some cost-cutting measures over the past couple of years with mixed results. In 2009, the team overhauled its roster two days before the start of the season, replacing its players with Colombian players as part of an affiliation deal. The players arrived from Colombia the day of the opener, and started 3-13. They finished with the worst record in the league.
In 2010, the league announced an affiliation deal between the Venezuelan Baseball Federation and the Scorpions three months before the season started. The team started the season hot and finished percentage points out of first. But team president Ricky Smith was allegedly not making payments to players and businesses in town, then left Yuma in the middle of the season. The team had to trade away its best players and finished with one of the worst second-half records in the league.
Outcalt said he expects Canseco to make a good public face of the franchise.
“Except for the first year with Benny Castillo, we haven't had anybody managing the Scorpions who's both Spanish and English speaking,” Outcalt said. “He'll attract not only Latin players, but work with the diverse community in Yuma as well. We expect Jose not only to do very well managing the team but also in the community. I think you'll see him in the community more than any other manager in the history of the Yuma Scorpions.”
Canseco became the first player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season, accomplishing the feat in 1988. That season he won his only MVP award and helped Oakland reach the World Series for the first of three straight years, winning in 1989.
Canseco played for the Athletics, Rangers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays, White Sox and Yankees in his career. He won a World Series with New York in 2000, but had only one at bat in the postseason for the Yankees.
In his post-playing career, he wrote a book in 2005 admitting to steroid use and named other notable players such as Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Jason Giambi. Most of the names in the book denied the allegations initially, but eventually admitted to steroid use. In the case of Palmeiro, he failed a drug test in the same year the book came out.
Later, Canseco said Alex Rodriguez used steroids, a claim that again was vehemently denied by the player. But a leaked report showed Rodriguez failed a drug test in 2003.
Canseco has appeared on reality shows “The Surreal Life” and this season's “Celebrity Apprentice,” which he quit to spend time with his ailing father, who died in March while the show was taping.
Both Jose and Ozzie Canseco made headlines this month when a Florida boxing promoter accused Jose Canseco of agreeing to participate in a celebrity boxing match and sending his brother instead. Jose Canseco said that the deal was for his brother to fight from the start.