DETROIT - Ivan Rodriguez stared through a window at the snow-blanketed ballpark he will call home and answered the question many have asked.
Why would he go from the World Series champion Marlins to the worst team in baseball, the Tigers?
"The owner showed me respect, and that is the reason I'm here," Rodriguez said Monday after finalizing a $40-million, four-year contract.
"Everybody is saying I'm going from a World Series team to a losing team, but I don't think of the Tigers as a losing team. I think the Tigers just had a bad season. It's going to be completely different this year."
The Tigers, who haven't had a winning record since 1993, lost an AL-record 119 games last season. They were one loss short of baseball's post-1900 record set by the 1962 Mets.
Their new catcher is a 10-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner and was MVP of the NL Championship Series last season.
"If you don't mind for a moment I'm going to soak this up a little bit," manager Alan Trammell said. "This is how it starts. This is how we get better."
If Rodriguez, who has an injury history, goes on the disabled list for five of more weeks, the Tigers would be able to end the contract after two or three seasons.
HENSON QUITS BASEBALL: Drew Henson has agreed to leave the Yankees to pursue an NFL career.
Henson's agent, Casey Close, told the Yankees the third baseman is quitting after three mediocre seasons in the minor leagues, AP reported. Henson will forfeit the $12-million he is owed from the contract he agreed to in 2001.
The NFL's Houston Texans, who hold the quarterback's rights, announced Henson would work out with the team Feb. 12 in a showcase for the other 31 teams.
SMOLTZ BACKS ROSE: John Smoltz said he felt a little betrayed when Pete Rose acknowledged betting on baseball.
But the Braves closer doesn't believe the all-time hits leader should be denied a spot in Cooperstown.
"I understand why he shouldn't be reinstated to baseball," Smoltz said. "But I have trouble with him not being in the Hall of Fame."
In a book released in January, Rose, who accepted a lifetime ban from baseball in 1989, admitted betting on the sport while managing the Reds.
A'S: Free-agent infielder Eric Karros agreed to a one-year contract with a club option for 2005, giving general manager Billy Beane the right-handed bat he had been seeking.
MARLINS: Outfielder Wil Cordero agreed to a $600,000, one-year contract. Cordero must pass a physical for the deal to become final, which could happen today.
OBITUARY: Joel Rubenstein, a top aide to Peter Ueberroth with the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee and the commissioner's office, died of cancer Sunday in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 67. Mr. Rubenstein joined the commissioner's office in October 1984 as executive vice president for marketing and helped found the Baseball Assistance Team, which raises money to assist former major-leaguers in need.