By LARRY LaRUE
The News Tribune
The News Tribune
AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. – Lou Piniella won’t be at the bargaining table in the Alex Rodriguez sweepstakes, but he plans to play a big role in trying to keep the free-agent shortstop with the Seattle Mariners.
“I told the agent (Scott Boras) last night, I’m going to be like a college recruiter with Alex,” the Mariners’ manager said Tuesday at the general managers’ meetings. “I’m going to be making that Tampa-to-Miami drive every few weeks to talk to him if I have to.”
Piniella lives in Tampa; Rodriguez in Miami.
He said he already has a sales pitch in mind.
“What would my pitch be? That he’s an integral part of this team, this franchise, of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Piniella said. “We’re in a very competitive situation, and there are no guarantees anywhere else that you’ll get to the post-season.
“He can reap the endorsements in Seattle. The club will be built around him. He’s assumed the role of leadership now, and this is a good place to play. And I’ll get personal – we’ve had five good years together, formed a bond, had a good relationship. He’s a great kid, he plays with passion and never cheats himself or the team. Everything he wants, he can accomplish playing in Seattle.
“And if they want to tweak the fences at Safeco Field, I’d endorse that. There’s some room there, if that’s what it takes.”
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