CINCINNATI -- Scott Rolen struck out to end the Reds' season. That much was certain.
Whether it ended Rolen's long and productive career, that was uncertain.
The 37-year-old, a seven-time All-Star and eight-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, made no definitive statements about his future in the moments following Cincinnati's 6-4 loss to the Giants in Game 5 of the National League Division Series on Thursday. When the World Series is over, Rolen will be a free agent.
"I don't know what I'm doing. I'm going to go home and pitch some balls to 'Finn Man,'" he said.
Finn Rolen is Scott's 5-year-old son.
"He's going to be acting like he's in the same situation I was in right there," Rolen said. "That's the situation you want to be in, there's no question. He's going to grow up and want to be in that spot some day. Dad was in that spot, and I'm thankful. Obviously, it didn't go the way I wanted it to."
Rolen followed an epic at-bat by Jay Bruce by stepping into the batter's box against San Francisco closer Sergio Romo with two outs, two men on base and the Reds down two runs. Rolen fouled off one two-strike pitch, then swung through another and the season was over.
Was a terrific career over, too? Rolen, who has played parts of 17 seasons for the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds, had hinted at his uncertain future earlier in 2012 when he said he planned to soak in the season.
It turns out that was way easier said than done.
"You're getting 95-mph cutters, other guys are throwing 100," Rolen said. "That's not fun. You don't soak that in, you're miserable when you get annihilated at the plate. It was a great idea. My heart was in the right place. But that didn't happen."
It didn't even happen on Thursday, when the Reds faced elimination.
"I'm hitting in the final inning, I'm not looking around and taking deep breaths or anything," Rolen said. "I'm trying to control the at-bat, and every time I was looking for in a spot, he was doing the opposite and making good pitches. I tip my cap to him. I wish I had a better read on what was going on in that at-bat."
Rolen had two singles in Game 5 and was 4-for-16 with one RBI in the series. He also committed a rare and costly error in the 10th inning of Game 3 that allowed the Giants to score the winning run and climb back in the series.
If this was the end, what will Jay Bruce remember about playing with Rolen?
"Being the best third baseman to ever play, in my opinion," Bruce said. "I think he's a Hall of Famer, and I tell him all the time that it's a pleasure going out there every day to play with a Hall of Famer. He's a stand-up guy off the field, the epitome of a professional on the field. People should want to play the game exactly like him."
Former Cardinals teammate Ryan Ludwick echoed that praise.
"Leadership," he said. "A Hall of Famer, in my opinion, no doubt about it. I played with him in St. Louis, too, and he's a gamer, a guy that goes about his business the way you want to teach a 3-, 4-, 5-year-old kid. He's a grown man and he plays the game every out, every pitch at max intensity. I don't even know if I can say that about myself."
Rolen spoke of keeping an open mind about his options for 2013.
"Sometimes you can't make your own decisions, you know?" he said. "Sometimes you have to see what's going on [in terms of interest from teams]. Right now, I'm going to go home and take my kids to school, be dad, decompress a little bit and see where I'm at."
Other key Reds with an uncertain future:
He signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Reds to re-establish himself after some down seasons in San Diego and Pittsburgh. His deal includes a mutual option for 2013 with a $500,000 buyout. Ludwick helped the Reds overcome the midseason loss of Joey Votto to a knee injury, and he finished the regular season batting .275 with 26 home runs and 80 RBIs, then added three homers in the NLDS.
"I can't even think about that right now," Ludwick said Thursday. "I was thinking about the playoffs, not my contract."
Jonathan Broxton and Ryan Madson
Both are free agents: Broxton after coming over to the Reds in July from the Royals and Madson after losing all of 2012 to an elbow injury suffered in Spring Training. Broxton was effective in a setup role for the Reds down the stretch, and Madson spoke of unfinished business with the Reds after he was hurt, but a return for either player could hinge on whether the Reds view Aroldis Chapman as a closer again in 2013 or as a starter.
Madson's contract includes an $11 million club option for next season, with a $2.5 million buyout. The Reds are unlikely to exercise the option, but both sides kept the door open to a return.
The manager is at the end of a two-year contract extension he signed before the 2010 postseason. The Reds were swept by the Phillies then before falling to the Giants this time. A series of players expressed hope Thursday that Baker would be back.
"I plan to manage," Baker said. "I've been through this many times, so I've learned not to worry about something that's really out of your control right now."