Pitcher had Sterling moments with Padres

SAN DIEGO -- Left-hander Sterling Hitchcock, the hero of San Diego's 1998 playoff run, retired Friday night after 12 years in the big leagues.

The 33-year-old Hitchcock, who had reconstructive surgery on his
left elbow in 2001, was plagued by rib, groin and elbow injuries
this season after returning to the Padres as a free agent. He
strained his elbow on Aug. 22, forcing him out of a game against

"This is not the way you want to go out, obviously," Hitchcock
said. "There are very few who get to choose the way they want to
go out."

Hitchcock said it became evident at the beginning of the week
that his elbow wasn't getting better.

"They told me with the MRIs that there was minor damage, but at
this point I'm not reading an MRI," he said. "I'm reading how my
elbow feels and it's still sore, it's still tight. That's all I can
go by at this point."

Hitchcock was 74-76 with a 4.80 ERA. He also pitched for the New
York Yankees, Seattle Mariners and St. Louis Cardinals.

Hitchcock helped pitch the Padres into the 1998 World Series,
going 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA against the Atlanta Braves to earn MVP
honors in the NL championship series. The Padres were swept in the
World Series by the Yankees.

Hitchcock said he became so fed up with baseball following his
second stint with the Yankees, from 2001-03, that he planned on
retiring then.

"After going to St. Louis and getting a chance to start with
that group of guys, I had a blast again," he said. "Baseball
became fun. But the work and the effort that's had to go into this
season, it comes to a point in time where the writing is on the
wall. It looks like graffiti right now.

"I'm learning to never say never, but at this point in time I'm
closing the door."