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Tuesday, February 11
Updated: March 14, 4:47 PM ET
 
Rickey says he can play; Beane doesn't see a fit

ESPN.com news services

Rickey Henderson's unexpected presence at a weekend fan function in Oakland said it all: Athletics fans still love him.

But don't expect to see the future Hall of Famer get the opportunity to pull on Oakland's green and gold again.

Baseball's all-time leader in steals, runs and walks showed up uninvited at a weekend function at Network Associates Coliseum and again offered his services to his hometown team. But the A's aren't buying what Henderson is selling.

"I don't see where he'd fit with us," general manager Billy Beane told the San Francisco Chronicle. Beane has grown accustomed to answering an annual barrage of questions about a possible Henderson return.

"At this point, I don't think it's something we'd be interested in," Beane said.

During a question-and-answer session with fans, Henderson said he wants to return to the A's for a fifth tour of duty -- at this point, he's pursuing a minor-league contract with a spring-training invitation to a big-league camp -- and he wants to enter the Hall of Fame representing the A's.

Henderson also said he can still contribute, even at age 44 and even if it's likely for the $300,000 minimum.

"I just want the opportunity to play baseball," Henderson, a free agent after playing in Boston last year, said in response to a fan's question. "I can give (the A's) anything they're looking for. They've got their starting lineup, but I can come off the bench. I can play the outfield if someone goes down. I can pinch hit. I can steal a base. I can score a run.

"There's a lot I could give. I'm educated in the game, and I could help them win."

Oakland's starting outfield appears set with Terrence Long, Chris Singleton and Jermaine Dye, and the A's also have minor-league options in Adam Piatt and two others (Eric Byrnes, Jason Grabowski) waiting in the wings.

Henderson hit only .223 in 72 games with the Red Sox, and while he had a respectable .369 on-base percentage, his best hope to make a roster is as a backup outfielder or designated hitter.

Henderson's agent, Jeff Borris, has phoned Beane. Even Henderson himself has phoned Beane, according to the Chronicle.

Beane isn't biting, though he did call the Red Sox about acquiring Henderson in May, the newspaper said. But when Manny Ramirez went on the disabled list, Beane dealt for John Mabry.

"Rickey's more than willing to accept a minor-league contract," Borris told the Chronicle. "If he plays his way out of the game, so be it. But the game can't turn its back on a first-ballot Hall of Famer who's undoubtedly the greatest leadoff hitter of all time."






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