Jose Canseco is usually making headlines for the wrong reasons, this time he is using his celebrity for the greater good.
The former MVP, World Series champion and admitted steroid user, told the San Antonio Express-News that he loves the game, and if he can play the game, he's going to continue to try. Currently working as the Texas Winter League's Director of Baseball Operations and Special Instructor, Canseco has told league officials that he plans to play in all 1:00pm games at Nelson Wollf Stadium.
From 2005-2013, the TWL was known as the Arizona Winter League. During that time the AWL saw over 220 players sign professional contracts. Included in that list is San Francisco Giants closer and two-time World Series champion Sergio Romo. Canadian Scott Richmond joins Romo as the only two players to make a Major League roster. The AWL ceased operations in 2013, but was replaced by the little known American West Baseball League's Texas Winter League. The AWBL begins it inaugural season in 2014.
The TWL is for aspiring players to learn under the guidance of professional managers and to gain exposure with the hopes of receiving a contract for the upcoming season. The league's site reports, nearly 75 percent of all players who participated in the 24-game Winter League season in 2013, signed with a variety of teams around the country.
The instability of independent league baseball is not new, and Canseco is fully aware of this. Now at age 50, any hopes of returning to the big league's is long gone, and according to league President Jose Melendez and Canseco himself, he is there to get his work in, promote the league, it's players and to increase exposure.
“I know people are going to ask for his autograph,” Melendez said. “But Jose's not going to be there for publicity. He's going to be there to work.”
Canseco says he doesn't mind the attention as long as it helps the league.
“I believe in winter ball,” he said. “There's so many players who didn't get a chance before and are looking for pro contracts. There's a lot of talent out here.”
Let's hope his celebrity helps some aspiring players reach the next level.