TAMPA, Fla. -- Raul Ibanez would be the proud owner of a World Series ring if not for the 2009 Yankees, so now the veteran is hoping that putting on pinstripes will give him a second crack at the opportunity.
"I'm still mad about the 2009 World Series loss," Ibanez said with a smile on Saturday. "Up until about a week ago, I was still mad about it, and then I said, 'OK, now I'm over it.'"
Ibanez, 39, finalized a one-year, $1.1 million deal with the Yankees last week, coming aboard as the left-handed-hitting complement to a designated-hitter platoon with Andruw Jones.
"It didn't really hit me until I pulled into the
stadium and realized I would be working here," Ibanez said. "Putting on pinstripes you saw so many great players put on before you, it's an honor and a privilege."
Ibanez batted .245 with 20 home runs and 84 RBIs for the Phillies last year, his third season in Philadelphia after also playing for the Mariners and Royals in his 16-year career.
He described 2011 as "not very good" and said he wanted to eliminate problems that created inconsistencies, but manager Joe Girardi was encouraged by his first looks at Ibanez in camp.
"He looks healthy, he looks strong, he looks like he's moving fine," Girardi said.
The Yankees wanted Ibanez over other choices like Johnny Damon, Vladimir Guerrero and Hideki Matsui because of Ibanez's ability to play the outfield if needed, as well as his left-handed bat.
Ibanez said that he received offers from other clubs this winter, declining to say which teams called with interest. He liked the Yankees' opportunity best and was optimistic that it would work out.
"It had all the criteria," Ibanez said. "It's a winning team, it's a chance to win the World Series, being able to be close to home in Philadelphia where I live with my family, and an opportunity to get at-bats."