Hendrickson on becoming a free agent
Left-hander Mark Hendrickson knew it was a real possibility that his 2011 option would not be picked up by the Orioles. After all, his ERA rose nearly a full point from 4.37 in 2009 to 5.26 last season and, by his own admission, he had too many multi-run outings (10 in 51 relief appearances) in 2010.
Because of new rules, it happened quickly. The Orioles had three days after the World Series ended to make a decision on the option, and they officially declined it Tuesday.
“The hardest part of today is it’s kind of one of those reality checks. OK, now what is going to happen?” Hendrickson said. “There’s the uncertainty that comes with free agency, and as I’ve gotten older, there’s the implications on your family. That’s where it hits home the most. The emotions are all over the place, for my wife and for me as well. You’ve got to let it play out and deal with our emotions, for the next couple days anyway.”
After pitching well in various roles in 2009, Hendrickson wasn’t nearly as effective this season, allowing lefties to hit .317 against him and right-handers to hit .311. He was better under Showalter, however. He didn’t allow an earned run in nine of his first 10 outings for the new manager and dropped his season ERA from 5.31 to 4.80 before a disastrous final outing in October in which he surrendered four runs in one-third of an inning.
“I enjoy playing for the Orioles and enjoy playing for Buck, and we played well toward the end of the season,” Hendrickson said. “Ultimately, for me, I know I can be of value, but it all comes down to putting together a year I am capable of, and I am already back in the gym doing the things I need to do to improve.”
In the past, Showalter has heralded Hendrickson for his work ethic and calm demeanor.
“Mark is a professional. You see why he has had a long career and why his work is wanted in a lot of places,” Showalter said Tuesday. “He’s a guy that we’ll see, when the landscape shakes out, whether he fits or not.”
Hendrickson didn’t re-sign with the Orioles until January. It’s possible that same scenario unfolds this offseason.
The 36-year-old, who lives year-round in York, Pa., prefers pitching for the Orioles and living at home. He has a teenage daughter and a baby due in January, and the idea of going somewhere else to play isn’t as attractive. But he might not get that opportunity, especially if the Orioles want to give his long reliever/spot starter role to someone younger.
“You’re talking about being close to home or perhaps leaving a situation I was used to for the last couple of years. And I have a baby coming as well, and that makes it a little scarier,” Hendrickson said of free agency. “But I am a spiritual man, and God has plans for me. I just don’t know what they are right now, but we’ll deal with it as a family and go through the process and I’ll keep my options open.”
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