Matt Stairs wants to be play at least one more season.
“In a perfect situation, I’d love to go back to Boston because it’s close to home and I always loved hitting in that park,” Stairs told the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo in October. “But I’d play anywhere.”
The 42-year-old New Brunswick native now resides in Bangor, Maine and coaches a high school hockey team in the off-season. Stairs told the Boston Globe that he feels rejuvenated after shedding 32 pounds prior to the 2010 season. The gritty Canuck planned to retire after the 2009 campaign, but he accepted a last-minute contract offer from the San Diego Padres for 2010.
The Padres, the 12th different big league team that Stairs has played for, surprised everyone this year by battling for a playoff spot until the final day of the season. Stairs was the team’s top pinch hitter, belting six homers in just 99 at bats. On August 21, the stocky slugger belted his 21st career pinch-hit home run to break Cliff Johnson’s major league record. The ball he hit off of Brewers reliever Kameron Loe for his record-setting round-tripper fortuitously ricocheted back onto the field, and Stairs was able to retrieve it. The Canuck slugger has hinted that that ball will likely end up in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ontario.
After that record-breaking home run, Stairs added two more pinch-hit homers in 2010. In all, in 18 big league seasons, Stairs has hit 265 home runs, the second-most by a Canadian (Larry Walker hit 383). Even at age 42, the likable Maritimer still represents a power threat off the bench. But with his days as a full-time DH likely behind him, Stairs is best suited to a pinch-hitting role for a National League club.
Cooperstowners in Canada prediction: He’ll ink a one-year deal with a National League East club (New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies are possibilities) for approximately $1 million.
Career Highlights (assembled with assistance from Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame):
Stairs is the first Canadian to have back-to-back 25-home run seasons (1997, 1998).
He was the first Canadian in the 20th century to have back-to-back 100-RBI seasons (1998, 1999).
His 38 homers in 1999 are the second most by a Canadian in a season (Larry Walker had 49 in 1997).
He ranks second all-time in games played by a Canadian with 1,839 (behind Larry Walker (1,988)).
He is one of only four Canadians to play with both the Toronto Blue Jays and Montreal Expos. The other three are Denis Boucher, Rob Ducey and Shawn Hill.