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12/04/09 1:29 PM EST

McGwire to appear before media soon

La Russa says Cards' hitting coach to talk before Christmas

Mark McGwire's first appearance before the media since testifying before Congress in 2005 will apparently come soon enough.

In a San Francisco Chronicle column that ran late Thursday night, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he thinks McGwire will address the media before Christmas, but not during next week's Winter Meetings.

If that holds true, it would leave a two-week window for McGwire to talk, from Dec. 11-24.

"He's planning to do it," La Russa told the Chronicle. "It's going to happen."

McGwire, the first player to break Roger Maris' home run record when he clubbed 70 in 1998, retired at the end of the 2001 season after spending his final four-plus in St. Louis.

The 46-year-old former slugger finished with 583 home runs but has received just below 25 percent support from the Baseball Writers' Association of America in his three appearances on the Hall of Fame ballot -- way below the 75 percent needed for induction.

A lot of that was caused by McGwire's reluctance to answer questions about performance-enhancing drugs in a hearing in March 2005, when he instead said, "I'm not here to talk about the past."

McGwire was hired as La Russa's hitting coach in late October, and at the time, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said his much-anticipated news conference would happen "sooner rather than later."

La Russa -- McGwire's manager for 15 of the first baseman's 16 seasons with the Athletics and Cardinals -- told the Chronicle McGwire didn't speak publicly earlier because he didn't want to overshadow news coverage of other baseball events, including the World Series and the announcement of offseason awards.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.