ST. LOUIS (AP) - Retired slugger Mark McGwire, whose home run record was tainted by steroid allegations, is returning to baseball as hitting coach under St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.
The Cardinals said Monday that La Russa had agreed to a one-year contract for a 15th season as manager and that McGwire will replace Hal McRae.
McGwire hit a then-record 70 home runs with the Cardinals in 1998 - a mark since topped by Barry Bonds - and retired with 583 homers in 2001. He famously refused to answer questions about steroid use during a March 2005 congressional hearing, saying he wasn't there to talk about the past.
He has received just under 25 percent support from voters in his three appearances on the Hall of Fame ballot, well under the 75 percent needed. McGwire has largely been out of the public eye since retiring.
McGwire was not at the news conference at Busch Stadium. La Russa and general manager John Mozeliak said there will be no effort to protect McGwire from reporters and questions about steroids.
"By no means is he trying to hide, and by no means are we trying to hide him," Mozeliak said.
La Russa had been attempting to persuade McGwire to return to the team for several seasons.
"He loves the game. He loves the Cardinals," chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said. "It's a great opportunity for him and a great opportunity for us."
La Russa managed McGwire for 15 of McGwire's 16 seasons, both in Oakland and St. Louis.
La Russa, who turned 65 on Oct. 4, had been mulling his future since the NL Central champion Cardinals were swept in the division series by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Oct. 10. His two-year, $8.5 million contract was to expire at the end of the month. He said he reached the decision to return over the weekend.
"I would be here if Mark wasn't the coach," La Russa said. "The fact that he's here adds some more fire to the gut."