Mariners execs warn fans to play nice on A-Rod's return

Thursday, April 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) _ Seattle Mariners management to fans: take it easy on A-Rod.

Mariners executives warned fans on Wednesday not to be too rude on the return of prodigal shortstop Alex Rodriguez to Safeco Field.

Rodriguez went to the Texas Rangers as a free agent in the offseason, signing for 10 years and $252 million _ the richest contract in sports history.

He returns to Safeco with the Rangers for the first time on Monday.

``We want to make it clear that when the Texas Rangers come to town next week, we believe it is important that the team and Alex Rodriguez be treated well,'' Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln and President Chuck Armstrong said in a release accompanied by the Safeco Field code of conduct.

``Yes, Alex is now an opponent. Nevertheless, the Mariners _ including ownership, management and players _ respect Alex and appreciate his performance as a Seattle Mariner and the memories he provided to sports fans in the Pacific Northwest.''

Lincoln and Armstrong warned that signs or banners not in keeping with the ``good taste'' requirement in the Safeco Field code of conduct would be removed.

``The Mariners will not participate in or encourage any organized efforts by third parties to disrespect Alex or any opposing player,'' they said.

Rodriguez's departure raised the hackles of some Seattle fans, who in the previous two years watched the Mariners lose superstars Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson.

The contract of A-Rod, or ``Pay-Rod,'' as a local sports radio station insists on calling him, topped the hot-stove chatter over the winter and can still be counted on for angry splutters over the airwaves.

For his part, Rodriguez has expressed fondness for Seattle and his former teammates, while making some public statements that suggest a different view.

``I moved to Dallas-Fort Worth to improve my future. So should you,'' he wrote to executives of the Boeing Co., which is moving its headquarters from Seattle, possibly to Texas.

Rodriguez has said that the Mariners gave him no choice but to leave when they offered only a guaranteed three-year deal with an option for two more years.

He says he knows it won't be like the old days when he steps back onto Safeco Field on Monday.

``I'm going to get, I'm sure some strong boos ... and some quiet cheers,'' he said last week. ``I think it's fair. If I was a fan, maybe if I didn't understand everything that went into it, I'd be the first one booing. It's part of the game, and in many ways you take it as a compliment.''

Rodriguez made his major league debut for Seattle at age 18 in 1994. In six seasons with the Mariners, he hit .308 with 189 home runs and 595 RBI.