(Reuters) — At this late stage in Raul
Ibanez's career, an All-Star season culminating in a World Series
championship may be the only thing that could lure the 19-year major
league veteran into retirement.
Then again, the affable Los Angeles Angels outfielder is having
so much fun he just might stick around another season. Or three.
"I'm happy where I am with my life and my career," Ibanez told
reporters recently in the Angels clubhouse. "Getting an opportunity
to play Major League Baseball at 41 years of age on a great team is
something that you don't see all the time.
"To have the opportunity to do that and play at the highest level at
this stage of my life is a blessing and I'll keep fighting forward."
He's playing for his fourth team in the last four years but the
left-hand swinging Ibanez still has his power stroke, having clubbed
51 homers since turning 40, including 29 with Seattle last year.
Ibanez was an All-Star with Philadelphia in 2009, the year the
Phillies lost the World Series in six games to the New York Yankees.
Though it was his best shot yet of getting the coveted ring, Ibanez
chooses to be philosophical about the chance.
"I think about what a blessing it was to get that opportunity, to be
there," he said. "But I don't think whether you get that opportunity
or whether those things never happen for you are the things that
"Your quest for excellence, your integrity, the way you go about
your business and your passion, and your drive and your will and
your determination — those are the things that define you as a man
and a player.
"At the end of the day, if it (a championship) happens this year or
if it doesn't, if I never step on another major league field, I'll
know that I've done everything in my power, gotten every drop of
talent out of myself."
Ibanez, who turns 42 in June, is hitting just .149 in 67 at-bats
this season but he has 15 runs batted in, second most on the Angels
and one more than 22-year-old, two-time American League MVP
runner-up Mike Trout.
His 10 RBI in the seventh inning or later is tied for tops in the
majors heading into Thursday's games, a statistic not lost on Angels
manager Mike Scioscia.