ST. LOUIS -- Skip Schumaker knows better than any of his teammates what the Cardinals will be getting when Mark McGwire begins work as the club's new hitting coach. And he's excited.
Schumaker has worked on hitting in the offseason with McGwire, and is a firm believer in the slugger's methods. He's eager to be able to work with McGwire for more than just the winter.
"He's just relentless as far as his work ethic," Schumaker said. "I know he's going to be in the cage as much as you want him, as much as needed. He leaves when we're done. ... If we ask him to go hit, he's going to be there."
McGwire's offseason work with Schumaker, Matt Holliday, Chris Duncan and other big leaguers was one factor in the Cardinals' willingness to hire him despite his inexperience. McGwire has never coached in professional baseball. Manager Tony La Russa has visited the workouts, and he came away impressed.
"His approach is basic and it's understandable for players," La Russa said. "They get it. It's not confusing. I see guys respond to it. 'Schu' is a good example."
As for the potential baggage that may come with McGwire, Schumaker said that it's not an issue to him. McGwire has been accused, most notably by former teammate Jose Canseco, of using illegal performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
And while McGwire will likely have to address the issue publicly, Schumaker does not expect the matter to be a distraction for the Cardinals.
"I've never even discussed it with him," Schumaker said. "It's never been brought up. I don't anticipate it being brought up. ... If he wants to deal with that, it's not up to me. For me, it's never been brought up."
More specifically, Schumaker said he does not think it will be an issue to any of his teammates whether McGwire did or did not use PEDs during his playing career.
"No, as long as it doesn't screw up him teaching me hitting, which I don't think it will," he said. "I'm concerned about him being a good guy, which I think he is, and a good hitting coach, which I think he is."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.