Raul Ibanez hopes to return to Yankees

Raul Ibanez, center, talks with Curtis Granderson, left,

Raul Ibanez, center, talks with Curtis Granderson, left, while sitting next to Hiroki Kuroda in the dugout during their Game 4 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers. (Oct. 18, 2012) (Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.)

If the choice is up to Raul Ibañez, he hopes to return to the Yankees. The free-agent outfielder/designated hitter said his time in New York has been better than he thought it would be.

"I do hope to be here," Ibañez said Thursday night at LIU-Post's Tilles Center. "At the same time, I do understand that the Yankees got their offseason prioritized and I completely understand that. We're talking to other teams, too."

Ibañez, 40, said he has spoken with the Yankees, but not about what his role would be. "We haven't got that far," he said. "I figured it would be to do the same thing I did, to DH against righties and play some outfield. I am looking forward to that if that's how it works out. I'd love to come back to New York. But I know they have their business to take care of. It's typical offseason stuff."

Ibañez endeared himself to the fans with three clutch homers in the postseason. He pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning of ALDS Game 3 and homered off Jim Johnson to tie the score, then hit a walk-off homer off lefthander Brian Matusz in the 12th. Three days later, he hit a tying two-run homer off Tigers closer Jose Valverde with two outs in the ninth to cap a four-run inning in ALCS Game 1.

The lefthanded-hitting Ibañez batted .240 with 19 homers and 62 RBIs in 384 at-bats. He hit all 19 homers and slugged .492 against righthanders.

Ibanez was at LIU-Post for a benefit concert, with proceeds helping victims of superstorm Sandy. The concert featured performances by Jose Feliciano and Jay Black. YES announcer Michael Kay and actor Chazz Palminteri were co-emcees. "Once we caught wind of the devastation here,'' Ibañez said, "it was something that was in my heart to come out here and help out any way I can."

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