Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Southern KY
Re: Sean Casey Could Be Headed West
Years from now, Sean Casey's three children won't care that their favorite baseball team only employed their father for a brief bit of time.
They'll be too busy falling in love with the chunk of Western Pennsylvania they'll refer to as Pittsburgh -- just like dad did, again, this season.
"If anything, this brought me back home," said Casey, a native of Upper St. Clair, of his trade to the Pirates from the Cincinnati Reds this past offseason.
"I got back and literally rediscovered why I love it here. It just felt like home immediately. My wife fell in love with the place ... so we decided that it's going to be home, no matter what happens."
What might happen, possibly before the non-waiver trade deadline at 4 p.m., could end Casey's eight-month stint with his hometown club.
A free agent at the end of the season, the Pirates have not begun discussions with Casey on a contract extension. That's somewhat disappointing, as Casey said he would like nothing more than to retire as a Pirate.
In all likelihood, however, Casey will be shipped out of Pittsburgh -- if not today, then probably over the final two months of the season, provided he clears waivers.
"If it happens, then I have no regrets," said Casey, who is being actively pursued by both the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels.
Since the Dec. 8, 2005 trade that brought him home, Casey's return has been a whirlwind of emotions.
He was re-introduced to Pittsburgh at a news conference days after the trade. At that event, Casey announced he would trade his familiar No. 21 -- worn in honor of Roberto Clemente -- for No. 25. As a result, T-shirts featuring Casey's surname and new digits became white-hot sellers at January's PirateFest.
Charged with providing leadership to a clubhouse consisting of many young players, Casey used spring training to build on his reputation as one of the friendliest and most accessible players in baseball. He went so far as to mentor Brad Eldred, his heir apparent at first base.
"It didn't take long to see why he was called 'The Mayor' in Cincinnati," Eldred said in March. "There's not a guy in this clubhouse he hasn't tried to connect with."
Though the Pirates struggled out of the gate, Casey did not. He was batting .313 before suffering two broken bones in his lower back during a collision at first base with John Mabry of the Chicago Cubs on April 14.
That injury forced Casey to miss six weeks. In that time, Eldred suffered an injury setback at Triple-A Indianapolis that would cost the power-hitting prospect a needed year of development.
Soon, even though he was not on the field, off-the-field talk concerning Casey began to center on a possible contract extension.
However, such talk never materialized into actual talks between Casey's camp and the Pirates.
Now, his homecoming appears down to one day.
"The whole thing played with my emotions more than anything," said Casey. "When I was traded, I didn't plan on being here more than this season. Then it looked like something might be worked out, and I began to think about what it would be like to retire here. I broke my back, which obviously wasn't part of any plan. And now, I'm feeling pretty good, but it looks like I'm going somewhere else to play out the season."
Casey paused to soak in his recap of the past eight months.
"I wouldn't call it bittersweet, though, because I might get a chance to play for a contending team and I did get a chance to play for my favorite team," he said. "In the long run, I'm going to play through my next contract, retire and then raise the kids in Pittsburgh.
"It's, like, I was talking to my wife the other day about everything. We just stopped talking, looked at each other and I said, 'This has been awesome.' There's really no other way to look at it."
"My mission is to be the ray of hope, the guy who stands out there on that beautiful field and owns up to his mistakes and lets people know it's never completely hopeless, no matter how bad it seems at the time. I have a platform and a message, and now I go to bed at night, sober and happy, praying I can be a good messenger." -Josh Hamilton