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Larkin ends 19-year career with Reds

WASHINGTON -- Shortstop Barry Larkin, a 12-time All-Star who
spent his entire 19-year career with the Cincinnati Reds, has
retired and joined the Washington Nationals in their front office
as a special assistant.

"I just felt it was time," Larkin said when reached Sunday at
his home in Orlando, Fla. "I had some opportunities with other
teams to play, but I didn't feel that I could make the commitment
as a player with another team."

The Reds, his hometown team, had rejected his overtures to
return for a 20th season, deciding to turn the position over to
younger players.

"While his tasks and challenges will be different than he
experienced as a player, Barry's presence coupled with an eagerness
to be involved in all facets of our operations will undoubtedly
yield positive results for both Barry and the Nationals,"
Washington general manager Jim Bowden said in a statement Sunday.

Larkin, 40, said he had been interested in working in a team's
front office and perhaps eventually managing a team and that his
new position would allow him to gain necessary experience. He also
said joining a new organization appealed to him.

"I just thought that this was a way for me to get some exposure
with a front office and do some things that I may possibly want to
do in the future," he said.

Larkin's 19-year tenure with the Reds was the longest streak
among active players who had been with just one team.

Over 2,180 games, he hit .295 with 441 doubles, 76 triples, 198
home runs, 960 RBI and 379 stolen bases. He helped the team win the
World Series in 1990 and was National League MVP in 1995.

Larkin batted .289 in 111 games last season and was chosen for
his 12th All-Star team, prompting him to re-evaluate his decision
to retire after 2004. He wanted to stay with the Reds for another
season, but they decided to turn the position over to younger
players.

Until Sunday's announcement, Larkin was managing a sports
complex in Orlando, working in a development management group,
spending time with his family and considering his options for
playing one more season.

He long had dreamt of working in the Reds' front office, but
that chance disappeared when he and the team's chief operating
officer, John Allen, clashed over a take-it-or-leave-it contract
offer late in the 2003 season. Larkin was prepared to leave then;
the team reconsidered and negotiated a one-year deal for 2004.

Bowden was the Reds' general manager from 1992-2003.

"I have long admired Barry's on- and off-field knowledge and
judgment of the game," Bowden said.

In the Nationals' front office, Larkin is joining Bob Boone, a
former Reds manager, and Jose Rijo, a former pitcher for
Cincinnati. Both are special assistants to Bowden.

"I've never been with another organization [than the Reds], so
familiarity with Jim Bowden, Bob Boone and Jose Rijo, all of that
made it very easy for me," he said.