Radke retires after 12 seasons, all with Twins
By DAVE CAMPBELL, AP Sports Writer
December 19, 2006
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Brad Radke kept his word and made his retirement official Tuesday, ending a 12-year career with the Minnesota Twins that was cut a bit short by a shoulder injury.
"The time has come," Radke said. "It's hard to leave this family."
Though the 34-year-old pitcher left little doubt during this past season that he would be retiring, he waited more than two months after the Twins were eliminated to announce his decision. The team, which will enter 2007 with several concerns about the rotation, was unable to change his mind.
"It's time to close this chapter in baseball and move on," he said. And while sniffling at the microphone, he told those gathered: "No tears! I don't want to see any tears."
With manager Ron Gardenhire sitting next to him, Radke thanked the team's management and said he still can't believe he got to play for a franchise he watched when he was a kid.
"These past 12 years have been extremely special to me," he said.
Radke reached 20 wins once, in 1997, and his lone All-Star game appearance came in 1998. He finished 148-139 with a 4.22 ERA and gave up a lot of home runs for someone who wasn't a power pitcher, but he was a popular teammate and one of the most important players as Minnesota made the playoffs four times in the last five years.
He pitched more than 200 innings nine times and was the ace behind the run to the AL championship series in 2002, the first postseason for the Twins since they won the 1991 World Series.
Johan Santana soon surpassed Radke as the staff ace, but without his success this year it would have been difficult for Minnesota to come back from a 25-33 start and make the playoffs.
Pitching with a torn labrum and stress fracture in his right shoulder, Radke was in so much pain down the stretch that used his left arm for simple around-the-house activities like pouring milk and brushing his teeth and eventually stopped throwing between starts.
After missing more than a month, Radke returned to the mound on Sept. 28 to make what turned out to be his last performance at the Metrodome -- an emotional night that concluded with the normally stoic Radke tearing up in the clubhouse.