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Ozzie Canseco Talks, Walks Like Twin, but Bat? No Way, Jose

MCCLATCHY NEWS SERVICE

He looks like his brother Jose--more than a little up close, and so much so at a distance that if the two traded jerseys the crowd never would know. The faces are almost the same. So are the hard, sculpted bodies.

Ozzie Canseco walks like Jose walks, and talks like Jose talks, and jerks his head shoulder-to-shoulder to loosen the cords in his neck the same way Jose does.

In the on-deck circle, with a bat in his hands, he even swings like Jose--feet apart, the stance open, the stick (a Jose Canseco model, naturally) held high and a-wiggle.

But there the similarities end.

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Between the lines, as they say, there is no mistaking Jose and Ozzie Canseco, the Oakland A’s twins who turned 26 only three weeks ago. One has 153 home runs in the big leagues already, while the other has none.

Osvaldo Capas Canseco, in fact, still has no HITS.

And probably no Jaguar or Porsche, either.

He was called up from Huntsville of the Double-A Southern League last Wednesday and struck out on three pitches in his big league debut that afternoon.

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So did his brother in his first big league at-bat, the club was quick to point out.

But Ozzie bounced out twice and flied out twice Friday.

Then he pinch-hit on Saturday with the game on the line and struck out.

And on Sunday he went 0 for 2, grounding out, striking out. To here, he is nothing for 8.

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When Jimmy Key walked him in his ninth try at bat, he did well to find first.

When he did, people cheered him. Folks here are with Ozzie, who didn’t play in Monday night’s game with the Angels, and it isn’t hard to see why.

It is simple enough to imagine how it must be, having a twin who looks just like you, walks like you walk, talks like you talk, who is the same as you are in every way you can measure. And who will probably break Babe Ruth’s record some day, while people consider you lucky when you hit a loud foul.

Did Frank Sinatra have a twin brother who turned out to be tone deaf?

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Did Errol Flynn have one who couldn’t get girls?

Or Pablo Picasso one who was merely a house painter?

How tough must it be to be Ozzie Canseco, with a locker right next to his brother’s, and see the people with note pads coming up to Jose, begging a minute of his time, tugging on his sleeve for a quote?

Sunday, no one at all spoke to Ozzie Canseco, not even the batboy.

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Funny, the curious twists that a lifetime can take.

The A’s drafted Jose out of high school. Ozzie spent a season in college. Both could throw hard, but someone decided Jose was an outfielder and Ozzie a pitcher.

After three years in the minors, Jose made it big. Ozzie spent three years learning to pitch, and just when he seemed to be getting the hang of it (3-2 at Sarasota, 5-4 at Ft. Lauderdale), someone decided he wasn’t a pitcher.

He hadn’t had a bat in his hands for a couple of years.

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It still shows.

He wasn’t exactly tearing up Huntsville, hitting .229, with 19 homers and 85 strikeouts.

And Saturday, sent up to hit in the ninth against Toronto’s Tom Henke, Ozzie appeared overmatched. The capacity crowd took up the hopeful chant, “Oz-zie! . . . Oz-zie!” But Ozzie took a couple of swipes and didn’t even come close.

Sunday, he bounced to shortstop the first time, then fanned on four pitches, swinging at three without contact.

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But in the sixth, Key fell behind 3 and 1, and the crowd began buzzing. The left-hander would have to come in with a pitch. Ozzie would have a free rip.

Alas, he missed big, the way his brother misses, swinging so hard that he almost fell down. If he had made contact, he might have driven the ball all the way to Nevada and maybe have nailed down a spot on the roster. Instead, on the next pitch he walked.

His batting average is still .000.

He is the sentimental darling in these parts, but this is not a sentimental organization.

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Mike Norris, who had pitched his way back after years on the shelf, was quietly released last Sunday, for no better reason than that he was old, and the good teams do not cut their young.

Terry Steinbach is due off the disabled list today. A catcher will be cut to make room. Carney Lansford is due back three days later, however, and Willie Randolph another three days after that.

The future seems fairly predictable for the brothers Canseco.

One has a ticket to the game’s Hall of Fame.

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The other, for Huntsville.


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