Koskie opts to retire after setback

3/22/2009 - MLB Corey Koskie

MESA, Ariz. -- Corey Koskie called off his comeback attempt Saturday, two days after taking himself out of a game because he felt lightheaded.

The 35-year-old third baseman, out of baseball since a 2006 concussion, spent the first seven of his nine big league seasons with the Minnesota Twins. He came to spring training with the Chicago Cubs as a non-roster invitee this year and played in three games, going 1-for-5 with a double.

Koskie, from Anola, Manitoba, also was on Canada's roster for the World Baseball Classic but did not get an at-bat in the tournament.

He took himself out of Thursday's spring training game against Seattle in the third inning. Koskie batted twice in the game and fielded a pair of grounders. But he said he began feeling ill after diving for another grounder.

"After that play, I just thought, 'What am I doing out here?'" he said Saturday. "Whether I got the wind knocked out of me a little bit, I did feel a little funky after it. I don't think it was a concussive event. But I did feel a little funny, whether it was the heat, because it was hot out there."

Koskie suffered a concussion in 2006 while playing for Milwaukee and has not appeared in the big leagues since.

He began working out in January, and the Cubs signed him to a minor league contract Feb. 28 and invited him to spring training. After he went to the WBC, he rejoined the Cubs and began competing for a backup infield spot.

"It's two and a half months after an injury I've dealt with for two and a half years," he said. "I got caught up in the emotion of coming back. I did feel real good. My swing felt good. I was able to hit. I was able to field. I felt like when I went out there, I felt like it was just another spring training where I didn't miss two and a half years before that because the whole rust factor, if there was, I didn't feel it. I felt sharp. I was on every pitch."

Koskie said he made his decision to end the comeback bid after talking with the Cubs' medical and training staffs and with his own doctors. In the end, he said the risks didn't make the potential rewards worth trying a comeback.

"I wanted to get back out there," he said. "I wanted to play. It might have been a little too soon. I might not have been prepared. I kind of decided, I said, 'You know what? Really, is it worth it? Is it worth the risk to go out there and play a couple more years versus having the rest of my life, living a normal life?' That's one of the biggest questions with a concussion because you try to minimize your symptoms, and you always feel you can do it.

"I know I can go out there and do it. But there is a little more head risk. Is it from my neck? Is it from my head? Is it really worth the risk to go out there and find out?"

Koskie said he was not sure what he would do now aside from spending time with his family. In addition to playing for the Twins from 1998-2004, he played in 2005 for Toronto and 2006 for Milwaukee. He had a .275 career batting average with 124 home runs.

Koskie hit 26 home runs for Minnesota in 2001, and 25 in 2004.

"I had a nice conversation with him today," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "He made the right decision. He's young. He's got a family. He tried, gave it his all. It just didn't quite work out. I think he got it out of his system, and that's the important thing."

Koskie said the experience with Team Canada and the Cubs this spring gave him peace of mind that he could still play baseball.

"Look at the facts," he said. "I'm 35. I still can play. On the other side of it, if I play, I want to be 100 percent. I don't want to be thinking about, 'What if I do this? What if I dive? What if I do this?' It might be a little different if I was 23 and had my whole career ahead of me and I didn't have any kids, didn't have a family, didn't have a wife. It might be a little different. Really, what am I trying to squeeze out for two more years?"