ST. LOUIS -- Tony Clark had some inkling that the news was coming, but it still was difficult to take. The veteran first baseman was told following Sunday's game that he was being released by the D-backs after hitting .182 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 36 games this year. "I'm thankful to the organization for giving me an opportunity to realize the dream of being a part of my hometown team," Clark, a Glendale, Ariz., resident, told MLB.com late Sunday night. "I'm disappointed I was not able to do my part to get them to a World Series."
Clark was signed by the D-backs prior to the 2005 season and became an integral part of the team both on the field and in the clubhouse. He hit .304 with 22 doubles, 30 homers and 87 RBIs in 349 at-bats in 2005 and after an injury-plagued 2006, he hit .249 with 17 homers in 221 at-bats for the 2007 National League West champions. Along the way, Clark helped mentor the team's younger players and was credited with coming up with the slogan "Anybody. Anytime." that the team rallied behind in reaching the 2007 NL Championship Series. Clark and the D-backs were unable to come to a contract agreement following that season, and he wound up signing with the Padres. The separation did not last long, though, as the D-backs reacquired him during the All-Star break and re-signed him this year. With the team falling out of contention early and manager Bob Melvin being dismissed in early May, the team has made moves recently to begin to prepare for next year, including the acquisition of first-base prospect Brandon Allen from the White Sox. While the club did not announce a corresponding move, they likely will recall first baseman Josh Whitesell from Triple-A Reno to give him a look during the second half. "My inability to perform capably essentially cost staff members their jobs," Clark said, referring to, among others, Melvin. "And ultimately cost me mine." Clark suffered a strained ligament in his right hand during Spring Training and initially tried to play through it before going on the disabled list. The high point of the season for him came on Opening Day, when he hit two home runs in helping the D-backs beat the Rockies at Chase Field. In recent weeks, the team had let Clark know that this day could be coming. He said he was also told that the team would like to have him remain a part of the organization in some capacity when his playing career ends. "We both remain hopeful that there will be an opportunity in the future to be a part of the organization in one facet or another," Clark said. Clark will certainly have options. He has been sought after in the past for baseball broadcasting and has been viewed in the game as someone who would make a good manager at some point. "Going forward I'll continue to work out and exhaust the possibility of continuing to play," Clark said. "If over the course of the next couple of weeks there are not any, I will wholeheartedly look to transition into something else." Clark and his wife, Frances, along with their three children Kiara, Jazzin and Aeneas, have become ensconced in the community and will continue their charitable endeavors regardless of whether he continues to play. "I told my wife after I got the news that my playing career may be done," Clark said. "And if it is, I've gone from being an old player to a young non-player at 37. If it is time to move on to the next chapter, it could be a 30-year one, so I want to get it right."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.