Raul Ibanez: Numbers don’t mean much without a ring

Raul Ibanez has been in the major leagues for a long, long time — 16 years, to be exact.

From his rookie season with the Mariners in 1996 to the Royals in ’01, back to the Mariners in ’04 and then to the Phillies in ’09, Ibanez has seen just about everything.

This season, he went through a maddening 0-for-35 slump before breaking out of it in a big way.

The 39-year-old left fielder has had a bit of a roller-coaster season at the plate, but he remains ultra-confident.

“I think one thing which has helped me with my longevity is the ability to stay on an even keel, don’t get too high or too low,” Ibanez said. “Stay the course and don’t go up and down.

This game is tough enough as it is. I just work and keep working when I’m up or down.”

Ibanez recently knocked in his thousandth career run, which is quite an accomplishment (he’s at 1,010 right now). He’s also eight homers shy of 250, another solid milestone.

While many fans will say that Ibanez has never lived up to the $31.5 million contract he signed in 2008, his attitude would suggest otherwise. In a recent Sports Illustrated poll, Ibanez was voted the second-nicest player in the majors — behind former Phillie Jim Thome. Besides, numbers don’t mean a whole lot to this veteran. He wants to win a ring.

“It’s what you play for, winning it all,” Ibanez said. “We’re hungry after last season. We want to be the last club standing this season. I can hit 25 more homers, but if we don’t win it all, it won’t mean all that much. I think one day when I’m retired, I’ll look back and reflect. Right now, it’s about winning as a team.”

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