Friday, November 2, 2007
Boras says Rodriguez wants private meeting with Aaron
By Jerry Crasnick
After Alex Rodriguez picks a new team and signs a new contract for a boatload of money this winter, he has one other item on his agenda, according to his agent: He'd like to set things right with Hank Aaron.
Agent Scott Boras said that Rodriguez, who was absent during the presentation of the Hank Aaron award before Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday, still wants to meet with Aaron to receive the honor in person, and would like to donate a portion of his next contract to a charity of Aaron's choosing.
"That's what we're trying to set up -- a situation where Hank Aaron and Alex Rodriguez are together and it's about baseball and hitting and not anything to do with Alex's contract," Boras said.
Boras was heavily criticized after announcing during Game 4 of the World Series that Rodriguez had decided to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract with the New York Yankees. Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball's chief operating officer, chastised Boras for trying to "put his selfish interests and that of one individual player above the overall good of the game."
While Boras has confirmed that he filed paperwork with the Yankees early Sunday, he has denied leaking the news of Rodriguez's decision to upstage the finale of Boston-Colorado series. He said he only announced that Rodriguez would become a free agent after news broke without his knowledge and he received inquiries from multiple media outlets.
Boras apologized for the incident earlier this week. "The unfortunate result was not my intent, but is solely my fault," he said in a statement Monday. "I could have handled this situation better, and for that I am truly sorry."
Rodriguez, meanwhile, took some heat for missing the presentation of the Aaron award, which is given annually to the top hitter in each league through fan balloting. The award is handed out prior to a World Series game; this year, it was done in Denver. Rodriguez hit .314 with 54 home runs and 156 RBIs for New York to win his fourth Aaron award since 2001.
Another Boras client, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, was in Denver to be honored as the National League's Aaron award winner. And Aaron, 73, showed up on crutches after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
Boras reiterated that a personal commitment -- and not the contract situation -- prevented Rodriguez from attending the ceremony.
"One of Alex's family members had a very important event that day," Boras said. "Ballplayers rarely get to attend these things for their families that are important, and he got a chance to do that."
Boras, nevertheless, said that he and Rodriguez were concerned that the furor over the player's contract status would turn the event into a circus and detract from the purpose of the Aaron award.
"We had writers call us who weren't even coming to the World Series who were planning to go just to talk to Alex about his contract," Boras said. "None of it would have been about Hank Aaron or the award, or about Alex Rodriguez and hitting and winning the award."
Boras said that Rodriguez's absence should not be construed as a lack of respect for Aaron or the award.
"You know what Alex loves?" Boras said. "At the All-Star Game in San Francisco, he had a chance to talk about hitting with Barry Bonds for an hour. To have a one-on-one and be able to talk about hitting with Hank Aaron -- what baseball player wouldn't want that?"
Amid reports that Rodriguez is seeking a 12-year, $360 million deal, Boras said he has yet to discuss specific economics with any major league club. He plans to attend the general managers' meetings in Orlando, Fla., next week on what he called an information-gathering mission.
"We're hearing from owners, general managers and a variety of people and collecting information about the levels of interest from the teams," Boras said. "Teams have a plan for the future of their club, and that's very important to know. But we understand that this is an ever-changing dynamic. An owner might give authority to a GM he didn't have before, and all of a sudden a team is in it."
Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN.com.
That's what we're trying to set up -- a situation where Hank Aaron and Alex Rodriguez are together and it's about baseball and hitting and not anything to do with Alex's contract.