Marlins newcomer Haren still feels the tug of family
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Dan Haren stood at his locker at 8 a.m. Sunday, coffee in hand and bleary-eyed.
“Time change,” he said.
It was only 5 o’clock back home. For the Miami Marlins right-hander, the relocation from Southern California to South Florida will take some getting used to.
Haren, 34, reported to his new team Friday after contemplating retirement, but it’s clear he still feels the tug of family. Back in Los Angeles are his wife and their children, ages 7 and 5.
Such separation is a downside to spring training.
“Anytime anybody here leaves their kids, it’s hard at first,” Haren said. “Kids don’t understand why you’re leaving and why you have to go. It gets harder as they get older.”
For that reason, the well-traveled Haren was happy to pitch for the Dodgers an hour from his house last season. He raised the possibility of retirement in November, hoping to dissuade East Coast teams from trading for him.
“There are ways you can maneuver the media to help you stay in a certain place maybe,” he said. “I was trying to leverage things.”
He also seriously considered calling it quits, he said. But he had one year left on his contract and was due to make $10 million this season.
“It’s hard to leave that much money on the table,” he said. “Can I walk away from it? That was definitely a factor.”
Haren said he first had thoughts of retirement three years ago, and on subsequent occasions when he struggled. But the Marlins say they’re convinced he’s fully committed to pitching this season.
“He’s ready to go,” president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “Once he got through the shock of being traded and worked through all of that, he committed himself to preparing for a tremendous 2015.”
Haren has been a model of durability throughout his career. Last year he went 13-11 with a 4.02 ERA and finished strong.
But in a career that has taken him to seven teams, he has been at his best pitching for a West Coast club. Haren said he enjoyed walking in the house and being greeted by family after home games last year, even when he had pitched badly.
“That’s the great part about kids, you know?” Haren said. “You can give up 10 runs, and they still just want to go in the pool when you get home.”
His wife and children will visit spring training during Easter break, and will come to Miami for a visit for a week every month or so, Haren said. The kids will be eager to see Dad, but they don’t care about watching him pitch.
Haren said they would be more impressed if he was a fireman.
“I’m not going to keep playing just because they think baseball is cool,” he said. “That’s for sure.”