hird baseman Scott Rolen declined the Cincinnati Reds' offer to attend spring training, but stopped short of saying he's ready to retire.
The seven-time All-Star informed the team of his decision on Tuesday, when Reds pitchers and catchers reported for the start of camp. Rolen, who turns 38 on April 4, had been mulling an offer to fill a reserve role with the NL Central champions.
He's been limited each of the last three seasons by chronic problems with his left shoulder and back spasms.
"Right now, I'm simply not ready to make a commitment," Rolen said, in a statement released by the team. "I would like to leave my options open, without closing any doors. I am looking forward to all of the challenges, both personally and professionally, I will face in the future."
Rolen became a free agent after last season, when he batted .245 in 92 games with eight homers and 39 RBIs. He missed time with the shoulder and back problems. Todd Frazier is set to take over at third base this season, but the Reds offered Rolen a chance to stay in a reduced role.
"It's tough for me because he's a good guy to talk to every day about third base," Frazier said, after learning of Rolen's decision. "I understand he wants to be with his family or whatever he wants to do. All the best to him. But I'd like him to be here so I could get more knowledge from him, for sure."
Rolen's arrival in Cincinnati coincided with the Reds' resurgence. General manager Walt Jocketty traded for Rolen midway through the 2009, bringing in a veteran leader for a young team. The Reds won the NL Central two of the last three years, with Rolen becoming one of the clubhouse's leaders.
"Scott made significant contributions to our team's recent success, and it isn't a coincidence we made the playoffs in two of his three full seasons here," Jocketty said.
Manager Dusty Baker said Rolen's absence would be felt deeply.
"It would be like losing a member of the family," Baker said. "He was a leader. Whenever you lose a leader like that, someone else comes along to take over. We don't know who that is, but a leader will come out."