Fetters: Mulling his options

Arizona leaves Mike Fetters free to deal

By Al Chase

Mike Fetters was in Japan with the Major League All-Stars when the Arizona Diamondbacks announced they were not going to pick up the option on his contract for 2003.

That did not surprise the Iolani graduate.

"I was pretty much assured before we left that they were not going to pick my option up," Fetters said. "The amount of the option ($2.75 million, plus incentives) is way too high for what I do."

The right-hander worked short relief for the Diamondbacks primarily as a setup man in the late innings for closer Byung-Hyun Kim. Often Fetters only had to face one or two batters, and his day's work was finished.

The option for 2003 was in the contract he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Dec. 15, 1999. At that time the Dodgers envisioned Fetters serving as a closer to either spell Jeff Shaw or share the role if Shaw had difficulty. The option remained when Fetters was traded to Pittsburgh. The Pirates did not have the money to pick up the option, one of the reasons they traded Fetters to Arizona.

Fetters' stats

"I knew as the economics of baseball started to go down, the option was too high," Fetters said. "I'm not a greedy person, never have been. Hopefully, the Diamondbacks and I can come to an agreement at a lower number and I can play here. This is where I want to play.

"They haven't made an offer yet. If they don't, I'm on the move again, and I've done that before."

Fetters and his wife Tanya live in a Phoenix suburb with their four children. Right now he is a free agent eligible to negotiate with any team. The Diamondbacks can re-sign him, but must do so by Dec. 7, otherwise they are out of the picture until after May 1, 2003.

The Diamondbacks' financial situation is tenuous at best due to the tremendous debt incurred in building Bank One Ballpark.

Fetters, who had surgery three years ago to clean out bone chips from his right arm, still enjoys playing the game.

"As time goes by, your passion for what you do gets stronger and stronger. Since I've been healthy, it has been nothing but fun," Fetters said. "You can take the business part and throw it out the window. I just want to go out there, play and have fun. I still feel I'm competing at a high level and I'm not ready to give it up yet."

He pitched 6 1/3 innings for the ML All-Stars in Japan and did not allow any runs. He said most of the major leaguers hadn't played in six weeks and it took a couple of games for most to regain their timing.

"The Japanese won the first three games. They took it to us. It was embarrassing. By the fourth game, we finally got it going and won the (best-of-seven) series," Fetters said. "Every stadium was sold out. To play baseball there was a neat experience."

During the offseason Fetters is helping to coach the varsity boys basketball team at the high school his children will attend. He has started working out in preparation for next season.

"I'll be starting my 15th season in the major leagues. Not bad for a kid who came out of Ewa Beach and is half Samoan (his mother's maiden name is Su'apaia)," said Fetters, who was born in California, but moved to Hawaii at age 9.

"I always tell people I'm from the islands," he said.

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