Nationals' Hammonds retires after 13 seasons

Updated: June 10, 2005, 9:22 PM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Nationals outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds retired Friday after 13 major league seasons in which injuries played a part in keeping him from reaching the success predicted when he was the No. 4 overall pick in baseball's amateur draft.

Hammonds, 34, ends his career with a .272 average, 824 hits, 110 home runs and 423 RBIss in 957 games. He never played more than 128 games in a season.

"I give him credit for knowing in his heart it's time to go," Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said. "He's walking away at a time when he can still play, when he can still contribute, but it's as the 25th player, it's not as a platoon player."

Bowden added that Hammonds declined an invitation to hold a news conference Friday.

Hammonds was drafted by Baltimore in the first round in 1992 out of Stanford, and he played for the Orioles, Reds, Rockies, Brewers and Giants before signing with the Nationals in December.

Hammonds was sent to the minors by Washington during spring training, then was called up May 3 and hit .219 (7-for-32) before going on the disabled list May 22 with a pulled right hamstring. He was hurt that day during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

"People ask me, am I disappointed about the injuries that I've sustained during my career, that prevented me from fulfilling my potential?" Hammonds said. "My answer is: Are you kidding? I have played with the best ballplayers in the world, at all levels, from high school, to college, to the Olympics, to the major leagues. That is a dream in itself."

He was activated off the DL on Thursday night and optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.

"Jeffrey didn't want to go back to Triple-A," Bowden said. "I explained to him the players on our team, we felt, were better."

Hammond's best season was 2000 with the Rockies, when he made the NL All-Star team and finished with a .335 average, 20 homers and 106 RBIss. He never had more than 55 RBIss in any other season.

In 1997, he hit a career-high 21 homers and helped the Orioles reach the AL championship series.

"The only thing that I was not able to achieve in this game was playing in the World Series. And this Washington Nationals team has a realistic shot of doing that," Hammonds said in a statement released by the team. "I will miss this game, I will miss the people in this game."

Bowden said the Nationals would be interested in having Hammonds work for the organization in the future, perhaps coaching in the minor leagues.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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