ANAHEIM -- Jered Weaver won't be able to make his scheduled start on Sunday in the Angels' season finale because of tightness in his lower back, but the 11-year veteran is confident he'll be back on a big league mound somewhere next year as he heads into his first offseason
ANAHEIM -- Jered Weaver won't be able to make his scheduled start on Sunday in the Angels' season finale because of tightness in his lower back, but the 11-year veteran is confident he'll be back on a big league mound somewhere next year as he heads into his first offseason as a free agent.
"It hurts me to say that I won't be able to make that start tomorrow," Weaver said in the Angels' dugout before Saturday's game against the Astros.
Weaver, who turns 34 on Tuesday, said he wants "to pitch as long as I can and as long as somebody is going to give me a jersey. I think I still have some years left."
"I am definitely not going to retire," Weaver said. "I'm going to play and see what the options are."
Weaver is not the same pitcher he once was, but he's still proven to be a productive Major League starter. In 31 starts this season, Weaver was 12-12 with 103 strikeouts over 178 innings. The Angels were 16-15 when he took the mound. However, he allowed a career-high 37 home runs and his 5.06 ERA was the highest of his career.
Is Weaver's preference to return to the Angels, the only organization he's ever known?
"The Angels have been an amazing organization to play with for 11 years and I would love to stay here," he said. "I've never been in this position to even experience free agency before. But my options are open. I don't even know if the Angels want to take a shot at having me back or any of that. I guess we'll know more in the months to come."
Weaver was born and raised in Southern California and went to Long Beach State before being selected by the Angels 12th overall in the 2004 Draft. Would he consider signing with a team outside his comfort zone?
"I'm to the point in my career where a [World Series] ring, it's always been first and foremost for me, but I want to win a world championship, and that's all I've played for," he said. "Obviously, a contending team would be first and foremost."
Weaver said his impending free agency is a different feeling, though he's eager to see what the future holds.
"It will be a fun process, I think, as well, kind of see what's out there," he said. "It's kind of a weird situation to be in. I've been here for 11 years and you think this is where you're going to stay forever, but it comes to a point where the business and things have to come into play."
Weaver experienced discomfort in his lower back during his Monday start against the A's and was removed after five innings. He threw a bullpen session on Friday in hopes of starting Sunday, but said "one false move on the mound or something might take it to a totally different scenario. It's not worth pushing it."
"I just wish that this back issue didn't happen now," he added. "I really wanted to make this start tomorrow, and it's just not going to happen."
Weaver acknowledged pitching in front of the home crowd was one of the main reasons he pushed so hard to try to take the mound one more time.
"It's why I wanted to go back out," he said. "The fans have been so supportive of me and showed their love over the years. It's kind of a bummer the way that I had to walk off the mound with kind of a nagging back and not being able to make it out for the last one."
Weaver was asked what was his favorite moment during his Angels career.
"It's a tough one," he said. "I would say celebrating on Boston's field in the playoffs [in 2009] was pretty cool. When those guys would beat us up and we couldn't get through those guys, and we finally ended up sweeping them and celebrating on their field."
Of course, Weaver's Angels career may not be over.
"We're not going to assume it's his last game," said manager Mike Scioscia.
**Austin Laymance** is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.