Wow, how far has he fallen? And he's only 30 years old!
Reitsma ready to quit
Arm woes have plagued Calgary's MLB pitcher
Kristen Odland, Calgary Herald
Published: Friday, March 28, 2008
The hard knocks came early and often in Calgary-raised Chris Reitsma's Major League Baseball career.
But this time, it appears enough is enough.
The 30-year-old right-handed pitcher was driving back to Calgary from Seattle Mariners spring training camp in Peoria, Ariz., on Thursday, after learning he wouldn't be on the American League team's roster to open the season Monday.
Reitsma is still under contract with the Mariners, but he's expected to throw in the towel for good.
"I expect that might be the way it's going to go . . . but two weeks from now or three weeks from now, he might get a better sense of what direction he wants to go," said Reitsma's publicist Michael Paolercio, who has been with Reitsma since his junior year at Calgary Christian High School.
"Retirement sounds like something final . . . I realize people come out of retirement, but I'm avoiding using that word.
"I don't necessarily say that for sure, but I think that is something that he's dealing with right now."
Reitsma was limited to 232/3 innings last season with the M's before needing elbow surgery. He wasn't available for comment Thursday.
Paolercio said Reitsma might stop in Utah on the way back to Calgary to see his pal Jared Fernandez, a former MLB knuckleball pitcher with whom he played in 2001 -- their first year in The Show -- with the Cincinnati Reds.
But the former first-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox wasn't rushing back to town.
Mariners manager John McLaren told reporters Wednesday that, while they're "not making any promises," Reitsma could be in the club's plans before the season ends if he makes progress in his throwing program.
"I think he felt like he could do everything he could do," said Paolercio. "It simply came down to them trying to fit people into positions that they needed to fit people into . . . that was a personnel decision, it wasn't a quality decision . . . they said he's capable of pitching right now."
A news conference will likely be called in the near future when Reitsma decides his next step.
The married father of three, who resides in southwest Calgary, twice broke his arm pitching, has had five operations along the way and was told at 19 that his professional career was over.
In 2006, Reitsma missed most of his season with the Atlanta Braves and underwent a rare ulnar nerve transposition surgery, causing his hand to go numb. At the time, renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews told Reitsma the only other person he'd seen with the condition was country crooner Kenny Rogers.
The six-foot-five, 240-pounder has spent seven years in the majors both as a reliever and starter with the Reds, Braves and Mariners.
Reitsma posted a 9.00 earned-run average in four spring outings, allowing 11 hits and five runs in five innings. He had permitted four runs and eight hits in three innings his past two outings, and was throwing in the low 90-miles-per-hour range.
"From a physical standpoint, there is not an issue," said Paolercio. "Whatever may have been written or said, there's nothing like that.
"Right now, he's still under contract with them. I would suspect that they're probably going to put him on a restricted list at this point.
"It's up to Chris at this point."
Chris Reitsma, a former first-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox, only played 23 innings with the Mariners last season before needing elbow surgery.
Year Team W L Svs ERA
2001 Cin 7 15 0 5.29
2002 Cin 6 12 0 3.64
2003 Cin 9 5 12 4.29
2004 Atl 6 4 2 4.07
2005 Atl 3 6 15 3.93
2006 Atl 1 2 8 8.68
2007 Sea 0 2 9 7.61
Total 32 46 37 4.70