A-Rod still hoping to turn things around in Texas

Updated: August 1, 2003, 3:10 PM ET
Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Alex Rodriguez and the Texas Rangers seem to be on the same page -- for now.

A day after indicating that he was so frustrated by losing that he would consider a trade, Rodriguez said Thursday that he hopes to remain in Texas for a long time.

That is, if things turn around in the future.

"If in a couple of years, which is 24 months, not today, tomorrow or August, we're still in this kind of rebuilding process, then in two or three years I'll sit down with Mr. Hicks and we'll get something done," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez hit a game-winning grand slam in the 11th inning Thursday night as the Rangers, who have committed to a youth movement, beat Boston 7-3. Despite A-Rod's second game-winning slam of his career, the Rangers are 45-63 and appear headed for their fourth straight last-place finish.

Texas has traded six players since May 27 in return for 10 prospects and veteran outfielder Shane Spencer, the only one of the acquired players now on the roster. Three of the team's nine rookies were in the lineup Thursday.

The non-waiver trading deadline passed Thursday without another move, despite the Rangers' desire to trade Juan Gonzalez and the Chicago Cubs' inquiry late Wednesday about veteran first baseman Rafael Palmeiro.

There were no trade talks concerning Rodriguez, in the third season of his record $252 million, 10-year contract. The All-Star shortstop turned 28 on Sunday.

"There's no doubt about it, I obviously want to stay here for years to come under the right conditions -- that we try to win," he said.

On Wednesday, Rodriguez said he would be willing to sit down and talk if the Rangers would be better off without him, "whether now, or a year or two down the road."

After hearing Rodriguez's initial comments, owner Tom Hicks spoke with the shortstop before Wednesday's game. Hicks, who refers to the Rangers as "A-Rod's team," said Thursday that Rodriguez is a committed Ranger who wants to win.

"We're all human beings. I've been frustrated for three years, obviously," Rodriguez said. "The day that anyone accepts losing is when there's an issue. I share that frustration with all of my teammates, and the coaches and the brass, as well."

The Rangers are 188-243 since Rodriguez arrived.

Rodriguez wouldn't elaborate on his conversation with Hicks, but said, "Things are good, I'm happy where we are."

Hart called Rodriguez "a foundation piece" for the young Rangers.

"My take on it is real simple. Alex made a statement that he's frustrated with the losing," Hart said Thursday. "I think his intent in this, at least in his conversation with Tom, was I don't want to do anything to hold the Rangers back."

The Rangers went to Palmeiro, who like Gonzalez has a no-trade clause in a contract that expires after this season, after the Cubs inquired about the veteran first baseman.

Palmeiro, who was drafted by Chicago and made his major league debut there in 1986, decided against it after sleeping on the idea. Hart conceded that there wasn't enough time to put together a realistic deal.

Hart said there was "significant interest" in Juan Gonzalez, even though he won't return from the disabled list (strained right calf) until at least Tuesday. Texas has made it clear that the two-time AL MVP won't be back when his $24 million, two-year deal is up after this season.

After turning down a trade to Montreal in June, Gonzalez changed agents and told the Rangers he would consider going to a select number of AL teams. He wasn't in the clubhouse Thursday.

Hart said Gonzalez's demand to be paid a large portion of $10.5 million of deferred money in his contract made a trade impossible.

"The major piece of the derailment was monetary," Hart said. "It's disappointing for us. But it doesn't mean this opportunity doesn't present itself again in August."

Gonzalez is hitting .294 with 24 homers and 70 RBIs in 82 games.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press