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Alou's hit streak has veteran thinking

Alou's hit streak has veteran thinking

NEW YORK -- In the midst of a month that's seen Moises Alou all but redefine the scope of what's possible at the age of 41, the Mets left fielder said on Wednesday that he'd like to do it again -- at the age of 42. Then he proceeded to show exactly why, homering in the first inning of Wednesday's game to extend his career-long hitting streak to 30 games.

Alou said that he'll likely play next season if the Mets exercise their contract option on him for 2008, and that he would consider staving off retirement even if they didn't.

"If I was going to bet on it, I would say that yes, I'm playing next year," Alou said.

Alou missed two and a half months with a pulled left quad earlier this season, but since returning, he's looked nothing like a 41-year-old. After homering off Nationals lefty Mike Bacsik to extend his hitting streak to 30 games, Alou's September average stood at .433.

The streak is the longest in the Majors since Willy Tavares had a 30-game run last season, and it's the fourth streak of 30 or more games by any player from New York. The longest, which is also tops in Major League Baseball history, belongs to Joe DiMaggio, who recorded a 56-game streak in 1941.

Alou was plenty productive last September as well, batting .329 in his last month with the Giants. That prompted the Mets to sign the veteran to a one-year deal during the offseason worth $8.5 million, with a club option for 2008.

"I'm in a very good situation right now," Alou said. "Every year, somebody wants me to come back."

He's hoping that somebody next year is the Mets. But if the Mets decide not to exercise their option on the injury-prone Alou, such a snub might be enough to change his mind.

"I don't know," Alou said when asked if he would play somewhere else. "I don't think so. I'd prefer to play here."

Alou would, however, consider a city close to his home in the Dominican Republic. Should the Mets decline their option, Alou would become a free agent, capable of signing anywhere. He's already played for seven teams over a 16-year career, and he said that the stress of playing a coast away in San Francisco often became unbearable in 2005-06.

"My poor family," Alou said. "I felt sorry for them traveling from the Dominican to San Fran the last couple of years. It's a nine-hour flight from the Dominican."

Alou was quick to note, however, that the situation is very much out of his hands. Should general manager Omar Minaya and his staff want him back, he'd likely return. If not, he'll have some decisions to make.

As for now, Alou said, "not even my wife knows."

But at the very least, this month has shown Alou what he's still capable of doing and what he'd be leaving behind.

"Maybe," Alou joked, "I'll be the only player to retire on a hitting streak."

Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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