M's welcome Everett to fold
The Mariners know what they're getting in Carl Everett — and they're embracing it. Everett's past has been riddled with controversy...
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Mariners know what they're getting in Carl Everett — and they're embracing it.
Everett's past has been riddled with controversy (see accompanying time line), and initial fan response toward his acquisition seems to be leaning heavily toward the negative. But the Mariners firmly believe Everett's fiery attitude is just the jolt this team needs after two straight 90-loss seasons.
"We had our choice. We had a lot of players we could have gone with," said general manager Bill Bavasi. "Chuck [Armstrong, team president] and I talked to Mike Hargrove at the winter meetings and laid some names out for him — let him choose, almost. He didn't hesitate. He went for Carl right away."
The Mariners' clubhouse, Bavasi acknowledged, "probably just got a little more hectic. Which is good."
Indeed, as much as Everett's "left-handed sock," to use this winter's catch-phrase, the Mariners were attracted to what they feel will be his strong clubhouse influence.
So much, in fact, that they appear to have given him a virtual two-year contract. Everett signed a one-year, $3.4 million contract Wednesday with a club option for 2007 that includes a $600,000 buyout. But industry sources say the deal vests for 2007 with a very makeable threshold that kicks in the second season.
Bavasi now turns his attention back to his search for pitching, which includes Scott Boras clients Kevin Millwood and Jarrod Washburn, as well as Scott Elarton and another intriguing name on their radar, Sidney Ponson.
Though Bavasi declined comment, major-league sources say the Mariners have interest in Ponson. Once a top-of-the-rotation pitcher for the Orioles, Ponson, 29, was released by Baltimore last September after an arrest for driving while impaired, for which he is now serving a five-day jail sentence. A grievance from the players association over his release is scheduled to be heard in March, but he may reach a settlement before then that will make him a free agent.
Everett, a 34-year-old switch-hitter who won a World Series ring with the White Sox last year after hitting .251 with 23 homers and 87 runs batted in, embraced his expected role as a clubhouse leader.
"A lot of these guys know me, they know my style," he said at his introductory news conference at Safeco Field. "I'm going to be in the mix. I'm going to be in there. ... When you slack, when you lack, and when you don't come to the park every day to play, someone needs to tell you. I don't have any fear in that. ... I don't care who it is, if something needs to be said, I'll say it."
Everett has had a string of incidents throughout his career, on and off the field. But the Mariners insisted they did their "due diligence," in Hargrove's term, and had nothing but positive response from his past managers and teammates.
"The testimonials are so strong — and not just from the guys that played with him in Chicago; it goes back," said Bavasi. "We are real excited to have this guy."
As for possible fan backlash, "To say it was not a concern, that means we didn't even think about it," Bavasi said. "You'd have to say, yes, we thought about it, we analyzed it, and we were comforted. And it was not a concern anymore."
Bavasi said of Everett, "He's not afraid to compete, to play hard. When he gets between the white lines, he's as aggressive as anyone out there."
Said Everett: "This team is a great club, but at the same time, they might just need that little push, and hopefully, I can be that push."
From his Ohio home, Hargrove said Everett could play some in the outfield, but the manager sees him primarily as the team's designated hitter, with Raul Ibanez seeing most of the time in left.
"Carl fits the bill of what we were trying to get this offseason, a veteran guy that can hit in the middle of the order, and gives us a presence to protect [Richie] Sexson and [Adrian] Beltre," Hargrove said.
Hargrove added that Everett "knows how to win. I think players learn how to win, just like they learn how to hit a fastball and curve. Any knowledge he can give our players through the season in that regard is obviously very valuable."
Asked if he had mellowed over the years, Everett replied, "I'm the same person. A lot of things are overblown. When you're not there, you only get the end of it. If you're there, the question might not have come up."
His message to Seattle fans? "Come watch me play. I've been booed here. I enjoy it. I don't mind the boos. You get booed when you can play. If no one ever said anything about me good or bad, you'd kind of second-guess yourself."
Naturally, Everett was asked about his 2001 encounter with new teammate Jamie Moyer, in which Everett, then with the Red Sox, earned a fine for spitting and grabbing his crotch after hitting a home run off the lefty, who had hit him with a pitch earlier in the game.
"It's funny," Everett said. "It's not really much to elaborate on. We exchanged some words, some things were done, and it was settled on the field. I don't think it's still over Jamie's head or mine. That's part of competition."
• The Mariners have not yet heard the result of their protest over Felix Hernandez's participation in the World Baseball Classic, but Bavasi said, "I really believe a reasonable approach will be taken. I think we'll be all right. I won't sleep easily until I know for sure, but I think common sense will win out."
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Carl Everett's major-league stats:|
|1995||New York (NL)||.260||289||75||13||12||54|
|1996||New York (NL)||.240||192||46||8||1||16|
|1997||New York (NL)||.248||443||110||28||14||57|