Agent: Trade talk slap in face for Nomar
No new husband likes surprises on his honeymoon, least of all someone like Nomar Garciaparra, who takes comfort in routine and the predictable. But after the Red Sox shortstop's recent nuptials to soccer star Mia Hamm, Garciaparra received some unexpected news from an unlikely source.
Garciaparra opened a newspaper and learned that Red Sox owner John W. Henry had spoken with Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez. The report added credibility to stories that Texas and Boston were discussing a Rodriguez for Manny Ramirez deal. It also shocked and hurt Garciaparra, who has one year at $11.5 million remaining on his contract with the Red Sox. Last night, Garciaparra's agent, Arn Tellem, spoke about how recent trade talks have affected his client.
"After all Nomar has done from the first day he stepped on the field for the Red Sox, to wake up on his honeymoon to read the paper and to see that John Henry is in direct talks with A-Rod is a total and complete slap in the face to Nomar," said Tellem when reached by phone.
"[The Red Sox'] position has been that it's been more Texas, but, obviously, I believe their statements, in light of their actions, are a bit disingenuous. The fact that John Henry is actually in talks and gotten permission from the commissioner to talk with A-Rod, and is doing it, sort of undermines the Red Sox' position that this has all been generated by the Rangers and there's nothing going on."
That said, Tellem reiterated that Garciaparra still wants to return to the Red Sox and finish his career in Boston. Garciaparra recently purchased a house in the area. He will conduct his annual Boston baseball camp next month. He will continue to raise money for the Boston-based Nomar 5 Fund.
"Clearly, Nomar's goal from the very beginning, which we've communicated to the Red Sox, has always been to return to the Red Sox and play out his entire career in Boston," said Tellem. "He loves Boston, the fans, the baseball environment. His No. 1 priority has been to remain as a Red Sox. I want to be clear. He's always wanted to return. He's always wanted to play there. And that still remains the case. But the actions of the Sox with respect to him doesn't make it easier moving this along in that regard."
Clearly, from Tellem's perspective, the most disconcerting aspect of the Red Sox' ongoing pursuit of Rodriguez is the fact that Garciaparra has been kept out of the loop. Neither Garciaparra nor Tellem has been kept informed about what Boston is trying to do.
If the Red Sox acquire Rodriguez, then it's practically a foregone conclusion that Garciaparra will be traded elsewhere. In recent days, deals with the Dodgers and Angels have been mentioned as strong possibilities. Tellem declined to comment on "rumors" about deals involving Garciaparra, preferring to focus on the talks between the Red Sox and Rangers and his own client's future with the franchise that drafted and developed him.
"We've had a number of talks and we've indicated that Nomar would like to stay, would like to remain with the Red Sox," said Tellem. "And really, the ball is in their court. I guess they're at some point going to engage with us. But, obviously, there's a lot going on that they're not sharing with us. I think for a player like Nomar, you would expect at a minimum to be treated honestly and with respect. And, in my opinion, that has not occurred.
"I recognize that it's a business and the Red Sox are going to pursue what's in their best interest. What's disappointing to me is that I would hope that they would be forthcoming, and, at least, considerate of Nomar. And again, at least be respectful in the way they treat him, at least be honest in what they're doing. If they are pursuing this other player, [they should] at least be able to disclose to [Nomar] what their intentions are. To come out like it has, I think, is extremely disappointing and hurtful to Nomar. No one's drawing lines in the sand because of their actions, but I can say it doesn't help or make it easier."
To place the Red Sox dealings in perspective, Tellem put it in terms of a Larry Bird for Magic Johnson trade.
"In my years in sports, and having been around a pretty long time with high-level players, I've never seen anything like this," said Tellem. "I don't think Larry Bird ever once woke up to read that his owner was in direct talks with Magic Johnson. I don't think the Celtics ever considered trading Larry Bird for Magic Johnson and said publicly they would prefer Magic Johnson over Larry Bird and not tell Larry about it. That's the analogy I would use."
When asked about the perception that Garciaparra does not enjoy playing in Boston, particularly because of the intense media scrutiny, Tellem said it was not so. Tellem commented that Garciaparra's affinity for the city and the Red Sox should not be judged by how much he smiles, but how he produces and his involvement in the community. Last season, Garciaparra finished with a .301 batting average with 105 RBIs and 28 home runs. Tellem added that Garciaparra likes the offseason moves the Red Sox have made to date -- acquiring Curt Schilling and hiring Terry Francona.
"He's always enjoyed the baseball experience of playing there," said Tellem. "Obviously, the intensity, the great competition, the history. To be able to hopefully get the team to the World Series and win a World Series is what he plays for. That's what drives him. Nomar demands so much from himself. I've made the analogy before that I believe he is the Bruce Springsteen of baseball. He gives it every day. Everyone who's been a fan there would confirm this, that this guy has given 110 percent every game, has never shortchanged the fans once. Every day he comes out and gives it his maximum effort.
"There are moments, obviously, when people say, `Well, is he happy there?' and wonder what his motives are. But if you look at his actions and how much he's given to this team and to the community over the last seven or eight years, I don't think anyone can doubt by his actions that he plays the game with the highest level of respect and dedication and that he loves the fans and the people of Boston and has given them every possible ounce of effort out of his body."
Until Garciaparra takes the field again, Tellem will see what the Red Sox are willing to give and what they really want.
"We'll continue to talk with the whole group there and we'll see how it plays itself out," said Tellem. "The ball's in their court. They're the ones that are going to have to decide what they want to do. Obviously, they're making decisions on what they want to do. Once they communicate what their true intentions are, we'll react to it. Right now, Nomar has a contract with the Red Sox and he intends to honor it."
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.