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Old 11-12-2001, 12:50 AM   #1
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Default Mark McGwire Retires

Just 17 homers short of 600, Mark McGwire has called it quits.

McGwire announced Sunday that he will not return to the Cardinals next season and that his baseball career is over.

McGwire struggled with injuries all last season, hitting only .187 with 29 homers in 97 games. He strongly hinted several times over the course of his struggles that he was considering retirement, and Cards manager Tony La Russa said he expected the slugger to hang up his cleats.

This spring, McGwire agreed to a two-year, $30 million extension, but La Russa said McGwire never signed the document. The extension technically would pay McGwire $14 million next year and $16 million in 2003, with much of it deferred.

"After a considerable discussion with those close to me, I have decided not to sign the extension, as I am unable to perform at a level equal to the salary the organization would be paying me," McGwire said in a statement. "I believe I owe it to the Cardinals and the fans of St. Louis to step aside, so a talented free agent can be brought in as the final piece of what I expect can be a World Championship-caliber team."

According to the Post-Dispatch, McGwire is trying to recruit free-agent first baseman Jason Giambi to St. Louis to take his place. "(Giambi's agent Arn Tellem) said McGwire did a great selling job," Cards GM Walt Jocketty told the Post-Dispatch, referring to Giambi's interest in St. Louis. Giambi, considered to be among the most-sought free agents, hit .342 with 38 homers and 120 RBI for the Oakland Athletics last season.

La Russa, who has managed McGwire for all but one year since McGwire broke into the major leagues in 1986, is among those who believes McGwire still can play. McGwire has 583 career home runs, fifth on the career list.

"But who knows what he goes through better than him?" La Russa said. "Nobody deals with the frustration he does. Nobody deals with the rehabilitation and nobody deals with the expectations that he does."

McGwire labored through the 2000 season with a bad right knee, missing virtually all of the second half. He had surgery to correct patella tendinitis but again struggled with the knee this season.

McGwire played in four of the Cardinals' five playoff games and was 1-for-11 with six strikeouts and a double-play grounder.
Well he provided many great moments and a great season for baseball with his home runs. But I agree, it his time to step away. I'm thinking this is where Giambi will be headed, if the Cardinals pony up enough money.
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