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Wednesday, January 16
Updated: January 18, 11:42 AM ET
 
Boone's deal could be worth up to $33 million

Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Bret Boone woke up so early Thursday he somehow forgot to bring his driver's license with him to the airport as he was leaving Florida.

Bret Boone
Second Base
Seattle Mariners
Profile
2001 SEASON STATISTICS
GM HR RBI R SB AVG
158 37 141 118 5 .331

The Seattle Mariners wanted their newly re-signed second baseman in town as soon as possible for a physical, and Boone was happy to oblige. It just took a quick return to his home in Orlando to retrieve his ID so he could board his flight.

"It was a long day but I slept a lot so it was a good trip," a cheery Boone said at a Safeco Field news conference a day after he agreed to a $25 million, three-year contract.

Hopping across the country is nothing new for Boone, who spent last season in Seattle after playing in Cincinnati in 1998, Atlanta in 1999 and San Diego in 2000.

Though he tested the market as a free agent, Boone said he knew all along he wanted to remain in the city where he had his best season. He didn't receive any blockbuster offers from other teams either.

"I am kind of sick of going year-to-year," Boone said. "I never really wanted to leave. ... I went into the winter saying unless somebody absolutely comes to me and makes it ridiculous, I want to stay here."

But until a few days ago, Boone figured 2002 would be another season that would end in uncertainty. Instead, he's ready to buy a house in the Seattle area.

Best Bret
How Bret Boone did in 2001 compared to previous career highs:
  2001 prev. high
BA .331 .320
HR 37 24
RBI 141 95
R 118 102
H 206 155

Boone was eligible for a one-year contract in salary arbitration, but decided a multiyear deal was a better option.

His contract contains a team option for 2005 that would become guaranteed if he has about 400 plate appearances in the previous year. The contract would be worth $33 million for four seasons.

Boone, 32, won't commit to hitting .331 with 36 home runs and 141 RBI again this season. He finished third in the American League MVP voting last year after setting AL records for second basemen in home runs and RBI.

He owes a lot to teammate Edgar Martinez, he said. Boone spent much of last season observing Seattle's longtime designated hitter in the batter's box.

"I think I'll be able to play at this level for a while," Boone said. "How many years, I don't know. I can't say I'm going to drive in 140 or 150 runs every year. I don't think anybody in the world can say that. But I think I can maintain this level."

And he believes the Mariners have the talent to play deeper into the playoffs. They lost to the New York Yankees in five games in the AL championship series last year after tying the major league record with 116 wins.

"I loved what went on here last year," he said. "I've had two or three years that were, start to finish, really fun years. But nothing compared to last year and what we went through and what this city went through. It was something that every player would be lucky to go through once."

With Boone's deal complete, general manager Pat Gillick said Seattle's spring training roster is nearly set.

"We could use another pitcher if the right thing comes along with our budget," Gillick said. "Otherwise we'll go to spring training with what we have now."




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Bret Boone gives his reasons for staying in Seattle.
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