No guarantees, reliable reliever says

Updated: November 17, 2003, 5:56 PM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- Mike Timlin didn't doubt manager Grady Little while sitting in the bullpen, waiting for the phone to ring, and he isn't going to start now.

"I'm not going to second-guess what Grady did there," Timlin said Monday during a conference call to discuss his new contract with the Red Sox. "He was between a rock and a hard place. I guarantee there's no person in this country who would want to sit in that seat and make that decision."

Timlin, who agreed to a one-year deal with an option for a guaranteed $2.75 million, was Boston's most reliable reliever last season, going 6-4 with two saves and a 3.55 ERA and leading the team with 72 appearances. In the playoffs, he retired his first 23 batters and did not allow a run in 9 2/3 innings as he developed into an eighth-inning specialist.

I guarantee there's no person in this country who would want to sit in that seat and make that decision.
Mike Timlin

But with Boston leading 5-2 in the eighth inning of the seventh game of the AL Championship Series against the New York Yankees, Little decided to let Pedro Martinez try to pitch his way out of trouble. Martinez blew a 5-2 lead before Timlin came in to finish the eighth, the Yankees won in 11 innings and Little was let go as manager after the season.

"Sure, I reflect on it. I'm like everybody else. I could go, 'What if? What if?' " Timlin said.

Martinez said after the game that Little wasn't to blame, and Timlin pointed out that there was no guarantee that he and closer Scott Williamson would have done better.

"You don't know," Timlin said. "That's the really cool thing about baseball: You don't know. If Pedro stayed in there and got everybody out, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

Timlin, 37, will get $2.5 million next year, and Boston has a $2.75 million option with a $250,000 buyout.

Timlin was disappointed that Little was not brought back. The Red Sox have interviewed Glenn Hoffman, Terry Francona and Joe Maddon and are still considering candidates. They hope to make a decision by the end of the month.

Timlin said he spoke with Little after the manager was let go and they discussed their respective options.

"I really enjoyed playing for Grady. If I had signed with another team, it would have been a new manager anyway. So I might as well be comfortable again," Timlin said. "Grady played a huge part in how we related to each other. You can't duplicate that. But the next manager might do something better that Grady lacked.

"I expect great things to happen," he said. "There was a unique satisfaction among Red Sox players about what we accomplished."

Also Monday, the results of the AL MVP voting were announced, with a league-high six Red Sox players receiving votes. Texas shortstop Alex Rodriguez won with 242 points, with Boston's David Ortiz fifth (130), Manny Ramirez sixth (100), Nomar Garciaparra seventh (99), Bill Mueller 12th (45), Pedro Martinez 22nd (7) and Jason Varitek 25th (3).

"We have 25 guys that were going in one direction," said Timlin, who said he would have voted for Mueller, the Red Sox third baseman and the AL batting champion. "As we rolled along the season, we didn't really fall off the track. There's a lot of other teams, if they lost a guy in their lineup, their offense suffers. Ours did not. Nothing slowed us down. That type of machine is what we were featuring all the time. That just doesn't happen a lot."


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

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