Reds Closer Weathers Ponders Retirement

By JOE KAY | AP Sports Writer
Posted March 28, 2006, 7:17 PM EST

SARASOTA, Fla. -- David Weathers' 6-year-old son followed him into the clubhouse Tuesday afternoon. A few giggles soon followed.

Dressed in his miniature Cincinnati Reds uniform with his dad's name and No. 25 on the back, Ryan Weathers quickly started acting like one of the guys.

He playfully slapped reliever Chris Hammond on the back. Moments later, reliever Kent Mercker had the boy on the ground, tickling his sides. Then, Adam Dunn had some fun redirecting him around the clubhouse with an outstretched towel that served as a barricade.

The boy loved the teasing. So did his proud papa.

It's one of the things that brought Weathers to Cincinnati as a free agent -- the Reds allow him to bring his son to the ballpark. It's also one of the things tugging on him to leave the game.

Those father-son moments are special, and he wants more of them.

"I've asked him about retiring and what he thinks about it," Weathers said. "Before it was like, `No, dad, I just want to go to the field and play with you.' But I think he's getting to that age where he wants me around a lot more and coaching his Little League team and all that. It's getting me closer."

Closer to retiring, he means. Pulling him in the other direction is a career that has been revived just as it appeared to be over.

Weathers did so well last season that manager Jerry Narron made him his primary closer after Danny Graves was dumped in May. Weathers had a career-high 15 saves in 19 chances, and went 7-4 overall with a 3.94 ERA.

The 36-year-old is in line to be one of the primary closers again this season. Narron plans to take the same approach, sharing the opportunities instead of designating one closer.

"I don't think that one guy is going to complain about getting up in the sixth, and I don't see a guy who would be scared to get up in the ninth," Narron said.

Weathers has grown into the role. He had a total of 14 saves when he signed with the Reds as a free agent before the 2005 season, the latest stop in a career that took him to Toronto, Florida, the New York Yankees, Cleveland, Cincinnati in 1998, Milwaukee, the Chicago Cubs, the Mets, Houston and Florida again.

He picked the Reds in part because they allow players to let their sons tag along. Some teams forbid children in the clubhouse or on the field.

"It brings you closer as dad and son," Weathers said. "You see a lot of guys in this game who don't find the time to spend with their kids, and I think later on in life you pay for that.

"I want to teach him the right way to play the game, the right way to act. There's no better setting than here. He's going to see so many different personalities, so many different ethnic backgrounds. That teaches him so much in life. It teaches him how to be tolerant of other people's beliefs and the way that they are different. That's why I love having him in here."

When Weathers signed with the Reds, his one-year contract included an automatic extension for 2006 if he pitched in 55 games. He made 73 appearances last season, which translated into an automatic $1.5 million salary for this year.

How much longer? The Tennessee native is giving it a lot of thought.

"I thought about (retiring) after 2004," Weathers said, referring to the year he played for three teams. "I wanted to come back for one more, to at least have a decent year to go out on. Cincinnati gave me the option year, it's close to home, so you play another year. We'll have to see at the end.

"Which is more important: Playing for two more years, or being there for your kid through the years that he's going to remember the most? For me, that's a huge decision. If I had no kids, I'd probably stay in the game until they kicked me out."

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