Work in Sports
Coming or going?
Rodriguez, other Mariners ponder future
Updated: Wednesday October 18, 2000 8:07 AM
By Jamal Greene, Sports Illustrated
NEW YORK - Normally, it would have been as close to media utopia as a losing clubhouse can be. After the Yankees came from behind to win Game 6 of the ALCS against Seattle, nearly every Mariner was seated peaceably at his locker, in silence.
Mike Cameron, normally a ready quote, had his head down and his back to the rest of the clubhouse and Mark McLemore shared a hug with Arthur Rhodes, but all in all, it would have been the perfect opportunity for quotes to be gathered quickly and deadlines to be met. No waiting, no sweat.
But this year's Mariners are no normal story. Superstar shortstop Alex Rodriguez's contract is up. He has said all along that the most important thing to him is winning. When Seattle gave in to Ken Griffey Jr.'s trade demands, it appeared as though the Mariners were giving up their shot at a title this year, but this team shocked the world and made it to the ALCS.
Said reliever Brett Tomko, "No one expected us to make the playoffs, but we proved a lot of people wrong."
With Seattle a proven winner, whither A-Rod?
That was the question that wiped the would-be smile off the media's collective face. Nearly every Mariner was out in the open, but as a swell gathered before Rodriguez's locker, clubhouse attendants rushed back and forth between it and the showers, transporting clothing and other sundries.
Rodriguez, usually among the first to dress and address the media, was in no hurry. When he finally emerged, a good 35 minutes after the game had ended, he indicated that his future was unclear.
"Getting back to Miami is the only thing I'm thinking about," he said. "I'm going to test the free-agent market, but that doesn't mean Seattle isn't my first choice."
Rodriguez went 4-for-5 in what may have been his final game as a Mariner. His infield single against Yankee closer Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning gave Edgar Martinez, who entered the game 9-for-11 lifetime against Rivera, a chance to bat as the tying run. He grounded out to short.
"My whole goal was to get Edgar a chance because he's probably the only guy on this planet with success against Rivera," Rodriguez said. "I thought it was an infield single at first, but then I remembered it was Edgar running and I thought [Derek] Jeter might run it over to first."
Asked how he felt when he realized he'd be out, Martinez replied, "I can't say on camera."
Rodriguez is not the only Mariner with an uncertain future. Martinez, for whom the club holds an option for 2001, has hinted at possible retirement should Rodriguez and manager Lou Piniella, whose contract is also up, not return.
"There are a lot of guys here don't know what's going to happen with them," he said. "I'm not even thinking about next year."
Right fielder Jay Buhner, whose contract is also expired, was. "Let's just hope the organization keeps adding on and brings the people back they need to bring back," he said.
Asked about his own future, Buhner was even more blunt. "If Lou comes back ... I'm all for it," he said, "but at the same time, all good things come to an end."