By Shannon Drayer
DETROIT – Earlier in the year, when Raul Ibanez was asked from time to time if he planned on playing past this season, he was evasive with his answers. On Tuesday, after briefly trying to deflect the question, he gave a firm answer.
“If you ask me right now, I definitely want to play another year,” he said shortly before the Mariners’ game against the Tigers.
Mariners outfielder Raul Ibanez says the mental challenges of playing baseball at age 41 are greater than the physical. (AP)
Ibanez said physically he has no doubt that he can play. Interestingly enough, a bigger factor in making the decision of whether or not to play at age 42 was with the mental side of things.
“Physically (I) feel like I can play for, kind of until I want to,” he said. “Mentally, it is a mental grind. The mental part becomes harder as you get older and staying locked in for six months in a row gets harder. But physically I think I can play this game for awhile. It doesn’t mean I will, but I think I can.”
Ibanez puts an enormous amount of work into both aspects of his game. On the physical side he maintains a strict diet and works with an array of coaches. On the mental side he has read books, worked with performance coaches and learned from those outside the game. He sees continuing to play more of a mental challenge than anything and feels equipped to do so.
“The fun part about that is overcoming those mental obstacles,” he said. “I draw a lot of my inspiration from people who are not in baseball.”
Ibanez pointed to a friend who is a Navy Seal and athletes in other sports as inspirational figures.
“I take inspiration from things like that when people have to do a lot more grueling things than we do in baseball and I think if they can do it, then why can’t you do it in the game of baseball?” he said. “I look at MMA fighters and people who are in combat sports who do these things where … they are going to get knocked out or possibly worse. In our game, if I am off by a fraction of a second, I am just out and I go back to the dugout.
“But that can happen when you are 20. I draw a lot of inspiration from people like that. Like the lady who swam from Cuba to Key West (Diana Nyad) who was in the water for 53 hours. She can do that and I can’t play baseball? I just find that ridiculous.”
So Ibanez will play on.
• Ibanez hit his 28th home run of the season Tuesday night to tie Barry Bonds for second-most home runs by a player 41 years or older. Ibanez needs two more to pass Ted Williams for the record.
• Felix Hernandez felt no wear or tear after his bullpen session on Monday so he remains on schedule to throw another on Thursday and then take the mound either Saturday or Sunday in Anaheim.
• Mariners minor league pitcher and former Washington Husky Forrest Snow has been suspended 50 games by MLB after a second positive test for a drug of abuse in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Snow, someone we have gotten to know a little bit the past few years in spring training and as a guest on both “The Cactus League Report” and “The Hot Stove League Shows”, reached out to us this evening with the following apology:
I was recently suspended for testing positive for a drug of abuse, marijuana. Let me first say, I have no excuse nor anyone to blame but myself. I want to apologize to the Seattle Mariners and to the community for letting you down. I accept full responsibility for my actions, and realize I need to make some life changes. I hope those I have upset will find it in their heart to forgive me, and that I can one day regain and earn their trust. Once again, I am sorry.
The suspension will be served at the beginning of the 2014 season.
• Finally, I received word Tuesday that the Mariners’ first pick from the 2013 draft, DJ Peterson, is progressing after two surgeries to repair the broken jaw he suffered Aug. 22. While he has lost 25 pounds, his jaw is no longer wired shut and he is able to do some conditioning.