Jody Gerut abruptly retires from baseball
Veteran outfielder Jody Gerut, one of several players fighting for a backup role with the Mariners, instead made the surprising announcement Sunday morning that he’s retiring from baseball at age 33.
Gerut delivered an eloquent impromptu news conference in the team’s press room about three hours before the club’s opening game of Spring Training after informing the Mariners of his decision.
“Physically, I’m fine,” he said. “But mentally my reasons for wanting to be in uniform have become so thin and narrow that I refuse to disrespect the game that has provided so generously for my family by playing it in a half-hearted way.
“It was very clear that my capacity as a player was done, empty, finished.”
Gerut said he came to camp 11 days ago with every intention of competing for a job, but realized in the last 3-4 days that his competitive juices were gone.
“There was a sense of apathy that hadn’t been there,” he said. “And there souldn’t be apathy because there is opportunity here. … The last three days have been hollow. I’ve had a very clear voice in my head saying in this situation, you shouldn’t be out there in the capacity of a player who is representing a team and a city.”
Gerut was in his first training camp with the Mariners after signing as a non-roster invitee. He previously played for manager Eric Wedge in Cleveland from 2003-05 and said he was glad Wedge and his staff were in place at the end of his career as well.
The Mariners told him if he had a change of heart the door remained open, but he said he didn’t think that was going to happen.
“I’m human,” he said. “It’s possible I could have a change of heart. But I highly doubt it. To me, this is it.”
Gerut has a .262 career batting average with 59 home runs and 226 RBIs in 574 games with the Indians, Cubs, Pirates, Padres and Brewers. Gerut, who graduated from Stanford with a history degree, choked up when reading a prepared statement and then spoke from the heart for a very interesting 15 minutes in the impromptu session.
Here’s Gerut’s full statement:
“I can no longer, in good conscience, play the game in a manner that reflects the positive example for the younger generation of baseball players. Physically I’m fine. But mentally my reasons for wanting to be in uniform have become so thin and narrow that I refuse to disrespect the game that has provided so generously for my family by playing it in a halfhearted way.
“This game of ours owes me nothing, but I owe the game at least that much. When a player finds his willingness to compete to be so greatly diminished, that player must leave the game so as not to disrespect it by becoming a player who plays solely for his paycheck and his own personal glory.
“This is a notion so distasteful to me it makes me physically sick to my stomach. So I will now focus my attention on the well being of my family as I start the next chapter of my life. My children need their father and my wife needs her husband to be a bigger part of their everyday lives and today I won’t have it any other way.
“I give thanks to God and to the fans everywhere in the world who love and support our pastime and I encourage them to hold their heroes in the game of baseball to these very high standards, because you the fans deserve it.”