M’s won’t change field for A-Rod

  • Monday, December 4, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Herald news services

SEATTLE – The Seattle Mariners won’t move in the fences at Safeco Field in an effort to re-sign star shortstop Alex Rodriguez.

“We like the ballpark as it is,” general manager Pat Gillick said Monday.

Rodriguez, a four-time All-Star for the Mariners, last week suggested the Mariners shorten the distances to the fences in the pitcher-friendly ballpark. Rodriguez hit 28 of his 41 home runs last season on the road, where he also hit 84 points higher than at Safeco. Rodriguez and his agent, Scott Boras, said last week that they weren’t making any negotiating demands on the Mariners.

Gillick said Rodriguez, 25, never has talked to him before about Safeco’s outfield distances.

“But I’m sure it will be brought up this week,” he said.

The Mariners will meet face-to-face with Rodriguez on Thursday in Miami.

“We’re not going to move the fences for any one player,” Gillick said. “If we do it, it’ll be for the good of the team, not for any one player.”

Having said that, Gillick acknowledged, the Mariners are open to being creative Thursday when they finally get their first chance to persuade A-Rod to return to Seattle. They’re taking their secret weapon to Florida with them – Lou Piniella.

Gillick, Piniella, assistant GMs Lee Pelekoudas and Roger Jongewaard and new coaching consultant Lee Elia will meet with Rodriguez and Boras in Florida on Thursday, then fly on to baseball’s annual winter meetings in Dallas on Friday.

Rodriguez brought up the stadium issue last week on his Web site – www.a-rod.com.

“That’s never been anything we’ve asked from any team, the configuration of their stadium. It’s not an issue,” Boras said. “His personal belief is the Mariners would have been more effective last year if the fences had been brought it. That’s his opinion, but that’s not going to be determinative of his decision.”

Mariners chairman Howard Lincoln won’t be at the Thursday meeting because he will be vacationing in Hawaii. Also missing will be team president Chuck Armstrong.

“One of the things on Alex’s agenda is that he wants to win,” Gillick said. “We’ve added a couple of new faces. We haven’t subtracted and I think we’re a better team than we were at the end of the season.

“Our payroll is going to be up about 25 percent, we’ve added Ichiro Suzuki and Jeff Nelson. We’re a better team now, and that’s a plus we can talk about.

“My message to Alex is simple: Weigh all your options, but there’s no place like home.”

Boras said Monday he thought Rodriguez could decide on his future team during the winter meetings. The Mariners won’t be the only club to speak with Rodriguez in Miami.

“We’re going to meet with Seattle and one other team down there and then I’m heading to the winter meetings for the final exam, if you will,” Boras said. “I think we’re down the road with a number of teams. We’ve narrowed it down to eight, and I’ve been negotiating with a smaller group.”

Rodriguez is believed to be seeking at least a 10-year contract that will bring him $20 million a season or more. Boras hasn’t publicly commented on figures.

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