10/03/2004 1:58 PM ET
Notes: Martinez ponders future
Veteran realizes contact situation may nix return to Rays
By Paul C. Smith / MLB.com
DETROIT -- Marking what could very well be Tino Martinez's last game in a Devil Rays' uniform, manager Lou Piniella had the team's veteran leader take out the lineup before Sunday's season finale.
|Tino Martinez has enjoyed playing for his hometown team and manager Lou Piniella. (Steve Nesius/AP)
"I've enjoyed it here,'' Martinez said of playing one year for his hometown team. "Playing for Lou has been fun, I've enjoyed the players and it's been great being at home with my family all year.
"This is probably one of the best situations in baseball for players because, if you live in the [Tampa Bay] area, you have Spring Training there as well. I know, I've been to a lot of my kids' soccer and baseball games this year. It's wonderful.''
Martinez, 36, was not in the starting lineup on Sunday, but began the day with a .262 average, 23 home runs and 76 RBIs.
"I wanted to do better [numbers-wise], but I always say that,'' Martinez said.
Martinez, with his four World Series rings, also had a great influence in the clubhouse with all the young players. But his return is not likely as Martinez's contract calls for an $8 million salary in his final year, or a $1 million buyout.
"It's common sense for the Rays [to opt for the buyout],'' Martinez said. But he added that money would not be the main determining factor in deciding where to play in 2005.
To return to the Rays, Martinez said he would want to see that they are making great strides toward improvement.
"First, I would have to be wanted,'' Martinez said. "If I can help them, I'd love to. But if I'm not in their plans, then I would understand.''
No matter where he goes, he knows his family will be happy.
"They just want me to play again,'' Martinez said.
Piniella would like to have Martinez return but realizes it's the veteran first baseman's choice.
"Let him go home and think about it,'' Piniella said. "There's no particular hurry.''
Quotable: "How do you score runs when you don't hit too many home runs? You take walks and you have a few .300 hitters. Well, we didn't take walks and we don't have many .300 hitters. So, at the beginning of the season, I knew we were going to struggle offensively.'' -- Piniella
Quick hits: The Rays have improved their final record over consecutive campaigns for the first time. ... The Rays spent 64 days in second place this season and 64 days in third place. ... The Rays and the Astros were the only teams to have winning streaks of at least 12 games in a row this season. ... On Sunday morning, Carl Crawford's left knee had very little swelling and he said he felt better. On Saturday night, Crawford suffered a bruise when he slid awkwardly into first base in the first inning. He still is scheduled to be examined by team doctors on Monday in St. Petersburg. ... Piniella said Jesus Colome has been examined by a doctor again, and was told to go home and rest his ailing right shoulder this winter.
Paul C. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.