Galarraga wasn't 'up to expectations' this spring
NEW YORK -- Andres Galarraga retired Tuesday after a subpar spring training with the New York Mets, leaving him a homer shy of 400 for his career.
The 43-year-old first baseman signed a minor league deal with the Mets in the offseason after making his second successful return from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma last season.
A five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove in a 19-year career, Galarraga was hitting just .235 in 17 games for the Mets this spring, with three home runs and seven RBI. The Big Cat probably would have been left off New York's 25-man roster when the team broke camp.
"This is a sad day for me, but I honestly felt it was the right time to step away," Galarraga said in a statement. "I just wasn't playing up to the expectations that I have set for myself throughout my entire career, and I wanted to walk away on my own terms.
"Playing has been a part of my life for so long, but I just felt this was the right time to give a younger guy a chance to play."
Galarraga made his big league debut with the Montreal Expos in 1985 and has played for St. Louis, Colorado, Texas, Atlanta, San Francisco and the Angels. He finished his career with a .288 batting average, 2,333 hits and 1,425 RBI in 2,257 games.
With the Rockies, Galarraga hit .370 to win the NL batting title in 1993 and led the league with 47 homers and 150 RBI in 1996.
"Great, great career. Great man. Great person," Mets manager Willie Randolph said in Viera, Fla., before New York's game against the Washington Nationals.
Referring to whether Galarraga would have made the 25-man roster, Randolph said: "It was going to be a tough decision. You always want to go out on your own terms, so I was happy for him. He's one of the classiest guys in the game."
Randolph expects to see Galarraga stay in baseball.
"He'd be an excellent coach, manager -- whatever he wants to be," Randolph said.
Galarraga missed the 1999 season after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, then hit .302 with 28 home runs and 100 RBI with Atlanta in 2000. The disease reoccurred in November 2003. He underwent surgery that November and had a stem cell transplant the following February.
He hit his 399th home run with the Angels in September and signed with the Mets this offseason, hoping to hit the milestone homer before calling it quits.
"Today shows you what kind of a class individual Andres is," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "He's always handled things with class and dignity throughout his entire career, and this afternoon is another example of his high character.
"He is such a wonderful example to the players of today, and I am going to miss him terribly. However, I hope one day he will rejoin our organization again."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press