Vaughn On Shelf For 2004, Most Likely Beyond

It was thought that Mo Vaughn would have to at least show up to spring training in order to collect any part of the $15 million he is owed from the Mets for the upcoming season. Now he won't even have to do that.

The former American League MVP and organization confirmed to the media last week what has been apparent for months: He will not play next season or likely ever again because of an ailing arthritic left knee.

"You have to know when it's time," said the thirty-six-year-old Vaughn.

The first basemen stopped short of announcing his retirement and the Mets will place him on the 60-day disabled list before the season starts.

"Mo is not suggesting or announcing he is retiring," agent Jeff Moorad said. "Call it a fine line of distinction."

By not retiring, Vaughn will still accumulate the $15 million he is owed for 2004 and the $2 million buyout of his $14 million contract for the 2005 season. An insurance policy will pick up 75 percent of the money owed to him, which is the number that the club had already figured into their savings for the 2004 budget.

Mets general manager Jim Duquette stated that team physician Dr. Andrew Rokito recently examined Vaughn and reached the conclusion that Vaughn would be unable to play this year.

During a conference call with reporters, the former Seton Hall star seemed prepared to accept the fact that he may never play another game.

"Everybody has to get up and get on with their lives and keep moving," he said. "If I continued to go out there and play, they were talking about knee replacement at a very young age. ... The fact of the matter is it doesn't look good for ever playing."

Vaughn was acquired by former general manager Steve Phillips prior to the 2002 season in exchange for Kevin Appier. Out of shape and often injured, he managed to hit just .249 with 29 homers and 87 RBI during his tenure in New York. For that he will eventually be paid $42 million.

Last season he appeared in just 20 games before landing on the disabled list. A career .293 hitter with 326 home runs, Vaughn has played only 166 games since 2000.

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