Boone says he has fire back

Boone says he has fire back

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Bret Boone went shopping on Wednesday, hoping to find an organization that would give him a chance to restart a career that was highly successful in Seattle, but mind-bogglingly horrible in Minnesota.

The ever-confident Boone, sporting a blonde hairdo that made him look like Billy Idol from the forehead up, spent the afternoon in meetings with at least two of the general managers attending the GM meetings at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort and Spa.

"I am in a different position now than at any time in my career," the three-time All-Star second baseman said. "I'm looking for an opportunity to get my career back on track."

A career that had seen the 36-year-old stand among the game's top second basemen was interrupted last season when, on July 3, the Mariners designated Boone for assignment. Nearly a week later, he was traded to the Twins for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

A total derailment soon followed.

After hitting .231 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs in 74 games with the Mariners, Boone batted .170, drove in three runs and hit no home runs in 14 games for the Twins, who released him in late July.

"When I left Minnesota, I needed to go home [to Seattle]," he said. "Mentally, I wasn't ready to play for anyone."

His agents and dad, former Major League catcher Bob Boone, tried to persuade Bret to find another place to play and finish out the season. Boone insisted that he wasn't mentally prepared to keep playing and remained at home with his wife and four children, and began working out -- physically and mentally.

"I needed to rehabilitate myself and it's the best thing I ever did," he said. "I have the fire back and whatever happens, happens. Someone is going to get a good deal. I have so much left to give to this game."

Which organization that might be is anyone's guess. Boone has no idea.

He says it's all about getting a chance, not about the money.

"I don't care how big, or how small, the contract is," he said. "It's about opportunity. It would be easy to walk away from this game and say 'I have had a very nice career and made a ton of money.' But I couldn't do that and look at myself in the mirror. I have a lot left; I know I do. I know I can play at an All-Star level."

The free agent doesn't pretend to think he can match the kind of season he had in 2001 -- when he batted .331, hit 37 home runs, drove in 141 runs and helped the Mariners win an AL-record 116 regular-season games.

The numbers he accumulated in 2002 (.278, 24, 107) and '03 (.294, 35, 117) were solid, but he slipped in '04 (.251, 24, 83), and fell off the cliff last season.

"Mentally, I know where I am right now," he said. "This past year was very humbling, but I have been humbled before. Check out what I did with Cincinnati in 1996-97. That was humbling, but nothing like last season.

"I ran into a wall and needed time to get my hunger back. It's back."

The question is: will another organization feed him?

Jim Street is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.