SEATTLE – Alex Rodriguez wants the Mariners to bring in the fences at Safeco Field even if he doesn’t re-sign with Seattle.
“With or without me, they have to bring them in substantially – to make the game better at Safeco,” the free agent shortstop said on his Web site. “I couldn’t care less either way, but it’s not good for baseball. Our numbers don’t lie. We were under 100 home runs at home and our home run production was terrible at home.”
But his agent, Scott Boras, said Friday that he wanted to emphasize that Rodriguez was just offering an opinion about Safeco and wasn’t trying to negotiate shorter fences there.
“Alex is not making any demands on the team on what they do with their ballpark,” Boras said. “Alex feels that has to be an organizational decision.”
Rodriguez, a four-time All-Star, became a free agent after the World Series . The 25-year-old shortstop hit .356 with 28 home runs and 81 RBI in 73 games on the road last season.
During the Mariners’ first full season at Safeco Field, he batted .272 with 13 homers and 51 RBI in 75 games.
“I’d say the fences should be moved in 20 feet in the power alleys, 5-10 feet in center, and 10-12 feet down the lines,” Rodriguez said. “When you think about this, we can’t even hit it to the warning track, and the track is 20 feet. That’s an indication of how large this field is.
“Not only is it the biggest park in baseball, but the ball doesn’t go anywhere,” he said. “That’s why you have to make up the difference – with or without me.”
The Mariners said they will consider Rodriguez’s views on moving in the fences at their $517.6 million ballpark if Rodriguez raises the issue in contract talks.
“Everybody has their own opinion,” general manager Pat Gillick said Friday.
“We saw it,” he said of Rodriguez’s remarks, “but basically didn’t have any reaction.”
Rodriguez’s opinion isn’t the only one that matters,
“We have to make decisions like that based on what’s good for the team as a whole. Underline the word team,” chairman Howard Lincoln said.
Rodriguez said he was seeking fairness for hitters at Safeco.
“It’s going to be an incredible pitcher’s park no matter how small it is,” he said. “You want to keep it a pitcher’s park. The thing is you also have to make it fair for the hitter. If you hit it 430 feet, it should be a home run, not an out like it is now.”
Boras said Rodriguez was answering a question on his web site when he made his comments.
“He just felt last year’s Mariners team could have won more games if those adjustments had been made,” Boras said.
The Mariners hit 92 home runs at Safeco and 106 on the road last season. Among the 14 AL ballparks, Safeco ranked 11th with 164 homers, followed by Fenway Park in Boston, Comerica Park in Detroit and the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The most, 243, were in Anaheim.
Rodriguez has narrowed his list of potential teams to “about eight,” said Boras, who would not say which teams they were.
Rodriguez and Boras will meet with Mariners team officials next week in Miami, Rodriguez’s offseason home, Boras said. But he would not say which day the meeting will be held.
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