Facebook Twitter

Gonzalez says Tigers are his ‘first option’

SHARE Gonzalez says Tigers are his ‘first option’

DETROIT (AP) — Juan Gonzalez says he does not want the Tigers to trade him before season's end and says re-signing with Detroit for next year is his "first option."

The Detroit slugger spoke before returning from the disabled list to play in Wednesday's game against Tampa Bay. He doubled in his first at-bat and scored on a Deivi Cruz single.

Gonzalez had not played since July 5 at Tampa Bay, missing 16 games with an inflamed left ankle. He has a .275 batting average, 13 home runs and 33 RBIs. He has missed 32 of Detroit's 98 games.

A day earlier, Gonzalez was quoted as complaining about playing conditions at the new Comerica Park, where he said the left and left-center fences are too distant.

Gonzalez sounded more positive on Detroit on Wednesday.

Asked if he was considering re-signing with the Tigers after becoming a free agent at season's end, Gonzalez said:

"Yeah, why not? This is my first option."

The Tigers acquired him in a November trade with the Texas Rangers.

Asked in mid-interview by his longtime confidant and Tigers Latin America liaison Luis Mayoral whether he prefers Detroit or Texas, Gonzalez responded: "Here."

The Tigers open a four-game series against the Rangers at Arlington on Thursday night.

"Yeah, I'm looking forward" to it, Gonzalez said. "My family's there. Good friends there, too."

Some Rangers, including Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez and Luis Alicea, have said they miss Gonzalez.

"We had great relationship for seven years," Gonzalez said. "I'm sorry for Rafe, I'm sorry for Pudge (Rodriguez)."

He said he was curious about how his old fans in Texas would greet him in a Tigers uniform, especially since he has been forced to endure booing from Detroit fans.

"Fans, fans. I don't know. Probably a standing ovation and I boo myself," he said, laughing.

He also balanced his criticism of Comerica Park with a complaint about Arlington.

"It's too hot," Gonzalez said. "It's 110 degrees."

About Detroit, he said: "It's better for baseball."

Gonzalez said he does not want the Tigers to trade him this season. The trading deadline is Monday.

"I can say were not looking to trade Juan," general manager Randy Smith said. "We played good since May 10 and how we play till the end of the season will give us an indication for 2001."

Smith said he still believes in his decision to acquire Gonzalez, despite the risk he would leave at season's end.

Gonzalez has been offered a Detroit contract worth a reported $140 million.

"Juan Gonzalez is exactly the kind of guy this club needed," Smith said. "We needed a hitter in the middle of the lineup. I'd make the same deal right now."