NEW YORK (AP) — Sometime after surgery in early November to repair a core muscle injury, Michael Cuddyer realized his body was not up to a 19th season of professional baseball.
Following eight trips to the disabled list in four years caused by a strained oblique muscle, an inflamed cervical disk in his neck, a broken shoulder socket, a thigh strain and knee inflammation, it was time to stop.
“It wasn’t just the DL stints. It’s the aches and pains that every single player goes through over the course of 162 games. They started to get harder to get harder to come back from. They started to get tougher to rehab,” he said Saturday.
“Mentally, that just wore down. I wouldn’t say that the core surgery sent me over the edge or anything like that, but it was just all of them took its toll.”
A two-time All-Star and the 2013 NL batting champion with Colorado, Cuddyer announced his retirement Saturday. His $21.5 million, two-year contract with the Mets called for a $12.5 million salary next season. It is unclear how much of that he will receive and whether his decision will impact New York’s roster decisions — such as not attempting to re-sign free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
“In handling this situation, the Mets were first class all the way,” Cuddyer said. “This is obviously a unique situation that nobody foresaw coming.”
Cuddyer, who turns 37 in March, hit .259 with 10 homers and 41 RBIs in 408 plate appearances this year, losing the left-field job to Michael Conforto by the time the Mets reached the postseason. Cuddyer made his first World Series appearance, striking out in all three of his at-bats.
“I couldn’t ask for a better scenario and a better script for the last year in my career than to play in a World Series,” he said.
A big reason Cuddyer signed with the Mets was to play with David Wright, a longtime friend. They both grew up in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.
“While battling injuries this past season, he was one of our team’s true leaders in the clubhouse, playing a significant role in our National League championship,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “He leaves an indelible, positive impact on our organization.”
Selected by Minnesota with the ninth overall pick in the 1997 amateur draft, Cuddyer played for the Twins from 2011-11 before moving on to the Rockies for three seasons and then the Mets.
He is retiring at the same time as former Twins teammates Torii Hunter and LaTroy Hawkins.
“I texted both them and said if you guys aren’t playing, I’m not playing,” Cuddyer said.
Cuddyer finishes with a .277 average, 197 homers and 794 RBIs in 15 big league seasons.
“I’m going to miss being around the guys. I’m going to miss that camaraderie. I’m going to miss competing. I’m going to miss the dinners and eating in nice restaurants in every city in the country,” he said.
Cuddyer doesn’t envision becoming a big league coach anytime soon because he wants to spend time at home with son Casey, who is seven, and daughters Chloe and Maddie, who are four. But he anticipates helping out with Casey’s team.
And he can entertain them with card tricks. Cuddyer is an expert.
“I can show them some stuff and they actually start to get it,” he said. “So I’ve got a whole new generation of audience coming up.”