Notes: Casey won't be re-signed
First baseman plays last game with Detroit; Rodriguez unsure
CHICAGO -- Ivan Rodriguez was out of the lineup on Sunday, not knowing whether it would be his last game as a Tiger. Sean Casey was the designated hitter, knowing it was his finale.
Manager Jim Leyland spent Saturday afternoon getting some of his final issues out of the way, meeting with players to whom he had something to say. In Casey's case, it was Leyland and president/general manager David Dombrowski who met with the first baseman to tell the impending free agent he would not be re-signed.
Casey, in turn, broke the news to reporters on Sunday morning. It wasn't a shocking development, coming on the heels of news that Carlos Guillen will be the Tigers' regular first baseman next year, but it meant that Sunday ends the Tigers tenure of one of the more popular players on the roster.
"I told them this is the greatest year and a half of my career," said Casey, who was acquired at last season's trade deadline and re-signed to a one-year contract last November. "I appreciate that they brought me in to say that to me, man to man. I've got nothing but great memories here, and I'm grateful for that. I told them, 'Thanks for getting me over here.' "
Casey started Sunday at designated hitter and saved an RBI single for his final at-bat. He was lifted for pinch-runner Cameron Maybin, and he walked into the dugout to a series of hugs from teammates.
The whole experience was enough to make him emotional after the game.
"I thought it was great that I was able to do that," Casey said. "Got a hug from all my guys. I'm glad I got a hit there. I didn't want to go 0-fer out there the last day."
Leyland also met with Rodriguez on Saturday. Neither the manager nor the catcher would discuss what the talk was about, though Rodriguez did say it did not involve his contract situation. He'll go into the offseason without an answer as to whether the club will exercise its $13 million option for next season.
"I don't know what they're going to do," Rodriguez said. "I cannot feel anxious. All I can do is wait."
Rodriguez is not assuming anything at this point. If Sunday's game somehow ends up being his last as a Tiger, he spent it as a spectator, since Leyland gave him the day off. That gave him some time on Sunday morning to reflect on all he has seen in a Tigers uniform, from joining the team off its 119-loss season to getting to the World Series.
"Four years, there's been a lot of memories," he said. "Last year was an unbelievable year, and the improvement this team has made the last four years since 2004 until right now ... You see the improvement every year. It's nice. It was a good roll here. It's very nice. The organization is very good -- first-class organization. The fans are tremendous. Detroit is a really good baseball town.
"I've been in baseball 17 years," Rodriguez added, "and I've been here for four good years of my career."
Casey was a Tiger for less than half that, but they were two good years.
"I really am such a baseball fan, too," Casey said. "I just love the game. So for me to have those memories of the World Series and the memories of beating the Yankees, and Magglio's walkoff. I am so grateful. I am so appreciative of everything. And you know what? Getting a chance to celebrate with the fans, that was one of the coolest moments of my career. That will forever be etched in my mind."
Family time: Curtis Granderson's latest homecoming wasn't quite the event it was in series past, but it finished with a flourish. The Chicago native had to find tickets for a little more than a dozen family and friends for the first two games of the series, but that number multiplied on Sunday, as everyone was coming to the park to watch him try for a .300 season.
Though his season ended close to home, he wasn't sticking around when the series ended. He planned on returning to Detroit on Sunday night to pack up his belongings, then drive back to Chicago later in the week.
Still going: Placido Polanco went into season's end with his errorless streak intact, now at 181 games. It's already a record for a Major League second baseman, but once next season begins, he'll be closing in on Steve Garvey's record for infielders. The former Dodgers and Padres first baseman went 193 games without an error in San Diego from 1983-85.
Sheff update: Gary Sheffield said after Sunday's game that he expects to talk with doctors Thursday about his options for his aching shoulder. Once he gets their interpretation on his test results, he has a decision to make, which he plans on doing quickly based on what he's told.
"It's going to be a tough decision," Sheffield said. "I don't want to deal with the pain [in the shoulder]."
However, retirement is not on his list of options. If he doesn't have surgery on his shoulder, he'll try to heal it through rehab.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.