Players Association executive director Don Fehr met with his staff and held a conference with player representatives on Monday before publicly announcing his pending retirement.
06/24/2009 2:38 PM ET
Players appreciate Fehr's service
Union members speak fondly of retiring executive director
The interests of the players he's represented and consulted every step of the way during his more than a quarter century at the helm of the union were always foremost in his thoughts.
"I had an extraordinary opportunity, and I hope I was a credit to the organization, and I hope the players believe they were better off for my having been here than not," Fehr said. "To the extent that we've had success over this period of time -- and I think we have -- the responsibility for that rests primarily with the membership."
Players around the league reacted to the announcement with mixed emotions. They were happy for Fehr but understood that they were losing the most accomplished labor leader in professional sports.
"Don was so great for us, done so many good things for the game and the players," J.J. Putz, the Mets' player representative, told the New York Daily News. "He just said enough was enough, and he was tired, and it was best for the union to put a new face on it."
Adam Wainwright, the player representative for the Cardinals, said Fehr had an enormously positive influence on the union and the industry.
"There's no question about what he's done for our union," Wainwright told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "He's been through thick and thin. He held fast to what he believed in. That's his job, and that was the best thing for the players.
"Don did a lot for the game," he added.
Veteran Derrek Lee was happy for Fehr but noted the passing of an era in which players' interests were in strong hands.
"He did a great job," Lee told the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's sad to see him go."
Jeremy Guthrie, a Stanford graduate and player representative of the Orioles, took an active interest in union affairs and was able to put Fehr's retirement in historical perspective.
"I think the obvious thing is that he helped the players to be unified over the years and through multiple bargaining agreements," Guthrie told MLB.com. "Unfortunately, the players went to strike in 1994, but he felt it was important for the players' rights. In a sense, the agreement from 2002 has always put the players and the game first, and the players have been treated fairly and the game has continued to grow."
Another player who was active in the union, Ted Lilly, noted the intellectual energy that Fehr brought to the position.
"In some ways it's disappointing for the union," Lilly told MLB.com. "He's done an incredible job, clearly. You understand his position. He's worked his tail off for a long, long time. He's given it everything he had. I think he'll probably still be around to some degree."
Aaron Heilman is among the young players who have emerged as the next generation of leaders under Fehr's tutelage.
"It's been a pleasure working with Don over the last several years," Heilman told the Washington Post. "We're in a good spot because of him, and I think we're going to be moving forward in a good direction afterwards, and that's largely because of the things Marvin [Miller] started and that Don has continued."
Rich Aurilia, who was a rookie when the 1994-95 strike ended, went on to become one of Fehr's closest player advisers.
"As a leader, he was great," Aurilia told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Ryan Theriot kept abreast of union issues by listening to veteran players in the Cubs clubhouse and sitting in on Fehr's Spring Training meetings.
"I know he had a lot of respect, both on our side as well as the opposition," Theriot told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I liked him. We'll see what happens [from here]."
Rodriguez shakes off injury: One day after being hit on the left side by a line drive during batting practice, Astros pitcher Wandy Rodriguez was back to normal. He shut down the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, limiting them to one run and two hits in seven innings.
"After that ball that hit Wandy yesterday, I thought he wasn't even going to get into the third today," teammate Jose Valverde told the Houston Chronicle. "He pitched really well. It was scary when it hit him on a line. But we have to keep hitting him if he'll pitch like this."
Scutaro putting up All-Star worthy numbers: Given the chance to be an everyday player this season, Marco Scutaro is hitting .300 and has scored 53 runs, the latter total ranks second in the Majors. His 48 walks rank second in the American League.
So media members are beginning to suggest that he should be considered for the All-Star Game.
"All players would love to play in the All-Star Game," Scutaro told the Toronto Star, "but I'm more focused on doing my job, helping the team win games and taking advantage of the opportunity I have to play every day."
Gamel settling in nicely: Mat Gamel didn't say a lot during Spring Training with the Milwaukee Brewers, but since being recalled from the Minors on May 14, he has adjusted to his teammates and become a little more outgoing.
"I've gotten into a little better rhythm," Gamel told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I think it just comes with getting more at-bats and seeing more pitches and getting more comfortable. I've just stayed doing what keeps me comfortable. I'm starting to be a little more active in the clubhouse and talk a little bit more."
Gamel's comfort level is paying off at the plate. Last week, he hit .304 with a .429 on-base percentage.
D-backs trio to get All-Star push: Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch believes Dan Haren, Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds deserve consideration to be on the All-Star team for the National League.
"There's big competition in this league to make the team," Hinch told the Arizona Republic. "There are a lot of worthy candidates, but I'll fight hard for us to be represented with more than one player."
Haren has six wins and sports a 2.23 ERA and 0.82 WHIP with 96 strikeouts in 101 innings of work. Upton is hitting .321 and has a .984 OPS to go along with his 13 home runs and 42 RBIs. Reynolds is hitting .267 with 19 home runs and 49 RBIs and has 13 steals.
Beltran happy to avoid surgery: The New York Mets lost another player to injury when Carlos Beltran was placed on the disabled list on Monday. The team made the move after looking at an MRI of his bruised right knee. The test showed that the size of the affected area had nearly doubled. Doctors advised Beltran not to hit or run.
"It's frustrating," Beltran told Newsday. "It might take 15 days, it might take a little more. I've never been on a team where a lot of guys got hurt at the same time, but I'm happy I know what I have and I don't have to go through surgery."
Grilli, O'Day bolster bullpen: Relievers Darren O'Day and Jason Grilli have proved to be great pick-ups for the Rangers this season.
The Rangers plucked O'Day off the waiver wire from the Mets, and he has posted a 1.22 ERA. Grilli was acquired from the Rockies for cash considerations and has posted four scoreless outings in five appearances.
"I always had hoped I could be productive and be a pitcher late in games," O'Day told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I just needed the chance. It's gone really good so far. You set out to be in this game to be one of the go-to guys in the late innings."
"We all have our road to travel," said Grilli, 32, who has a 3.60 ERA for the Rangers. "For me, being a first-round pick, it wasn't the road I thought it would be at this point in my career. Looking back, I'm glad it is, because it made me a stronger person. There are a lot of people that probably would have quit or given up on the team. It's about perseverance."
Ortiz getting back to old hitting ways: Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is starting to look like the Big Papi of old. Boston's designated hitter hit his fifth home run in 14 games on Sunday. During that span, he is also hitting .326 with nine RBIs.
"I think he's just fine," manager Terry Francona told the Boston Globe. "It's just going to take him awhile for his batting average to [go up], and that's not the end-all. If he ends up being David for the next three or four months, you'll look back at April and May and we'll all say, well, it was a blip on the radar."
Cook takes Rockies' all-time wins lead: Aaron Cook has come a long way in the last five years. In 2004, he nearly died while pitching after developing blood clots in his lungs. Now, Cook is the winningest pitcher in Rockies history after collecting his 59th career victory against the Angels. Cook was on top of his game against the Angels as he allowed only three hits and one run in seven innings of work.
"The Rockies have supported me through ups and downs, signed me through two contracts. It's something I am going to look back on and appreciate," Cook told the Denver Post, "but I don't want it to end here."
-- Red Line Editorial