Ibanez honored to be mentioned alongside Williams

Ibanez honored to be mentioned alongside Williams

Ibanez honored to be mentioned alongside Williams

ANAHEIM -- For Raul Ibanez, the chance to tie -- and perhaps now break -- Ted Williams' record for most home runs by a player age 40 or older is a testament to perseverance and preparation.

To hit 29 home runs in the Majors at age 41 is obviously unique, given no one but the great Williams had ever done it before. But just getting to that point, staying in the game for 18 seasons and then remaining in good enough shape to play at such a high level is the remarkable part.

Ibanez signed with the Mariners this season, thinking he'd be a part-time role player and full-time role model for the youthful club. Instead, he's racked up 432 at-bats and hit .249 with 64 RBIs through Saturday, while his 29 homers are the third-highest total of his career.

"It reaffirms what I've always believed, that you prepare for anything and give yourself the best opportunity to be successful," Ibanez said. "You do everything you can in the winter to be ready to be a baseball player to help your team compete. It's about your drive and will and determination.

"Fifteen years ago, there were questions around me about whether I was even a Major League player," said Ibanez, who didn't become a full-time player until age 30 with the Royals. "It's a good lesson I try to teach my kids and any kids that listen. It's more about perseverance and believing in yourself and not listening to people that doubt you. The only thing that matters is what you believe and how you work toward that dream and goal."

Ibanez, who will be a free agent at season's end after earning $2.75 million in 2013, wants to play another year in the Majors. But he does know that the end may be near.

"Physically, I feel great," he said. "I think it's going to be more a factor of family. I have five beautiful children and a beautiful wife. That gets harder when you get older, because you feel like you're missing out on a lot.

"My oldest, R.J., recently read that I want to play another year, and he's really excited about that. He's the only one in the house that wants me to keep playing because he gets it. He's 12 now. I think he likes the perks of getting in the clubhouse and out on the field and hanging out with the guys and following some of the guys on Instagram and having fun with it."

Though the season is long and Ibanez had to weather a tough second half after hitting 24 of his home runs before the All-Star break, he's finishing strong and enjoying all that comes with it, including putting his name alongside the Splendid Splinter in at least one offensive achievement.

"I feel fortunate to be in this situation," he said. "Any time you're in the company of the great Ted Williams -- I read his book when I was in high school -- and this was the greatest hitter that ever lived. To have this one thing -- and make no mistake, it's just this one thing -- that I have in common, it's a great blessing."

Ibanez wasn't in the lineup for Sunday's series finale, but will see some time in the final six-game homestand.

"We'll handle him very similar to what we've been doing," manager Eric Wedge said. "I told him last night to have fun and celebrate, because you're going to have the day off tomorrow. But we'll still get him in there. He's earned that. I was so happy for him. Maybe he can take it to the next step, too."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.