San Diego Padres right-hander Jered Weaver, beset by injuries and non-existent velocity, retired yesterday at just 34 years old. His decision was announced in a press release from the team.
“I’ve decided to step away from baseball. While I’ve been working hard to get back on the mound, my body just will not allow me to compete like I want to,” said Weaver. “Many thanks to the Padres organization for the opportunity to play in the amazing city of San Diego. You have been very professional and respectful during this process and I really appreciate that. I would also like to thank my teammates for welcoming me in with open arms and for all the support throughout the season. I’m excited for the next chapter in life and making up for lost time with my family. Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the years. It was a great ride!”
Weaver, a southern California native, signed a one-year, $3 million contract with San Diego in the offseason after spending the previous eleven years with the Los Angeles Angels. He was 0-5 with a 7.44 ERA in nine starts before a hip injury put him on the DL and, ultimately, ended his career.
The end of an era
The saddest part about Weaver’s retirement is that, although he never won a Cy Young Award or a World Series ring, it feels that an era is coming to an end. He was rarely mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Justin Verlander or Felix Hernandez, but he twice led the American League in wins and finished in the Top 5 of Cy Young voting three years in a row from 2010 to 2012. Weaver was 51-25 with a 2.73 ERA in that three-year span and looked like a Cy Young would come his way at some point.
Unfortunately, that never came to be. For all of his strengths, Weaver often struggled with injuries. In 12 years, he pitched 200 or more innings just four times. He dealt with a back injury in 2012 and a broken elbow the following year. Various aches and pains and his velocity dipping to the mid-80s by his age-32 season further contributed to a massive decline.
And in spite of all the factors that kept Weaver from reaching the highest level of recognition, be it his injuries, not winning a World Series or being beaten out for the AL Cy Young, he should still be remembered as someone who had a take-no-prisoners attitude on the mound whether he was winning or losing.
Between his ice-cold stare, intimidating 6’7″ frame, or his involved pitching motion with his long hair flowing out the back of his cap, Weaver was not a pitcher to be taken lightly. He gave his all day in and day out and was a staple of the Angels’ rotation.
The saddest part of this story is that, like so many before him, he could not adjust to a dip in his velocity and that was his downfall.
In spite of that, Weaver should be looked back on with fondness and not pity. He was a fierce competitor and never let obstacles get him down, be it injuries or his team struggling. Even this year, as his hip injury looked more and more likely to rob him of returning to the mound, he continued to explore all options until he realized it was best to just hang it up.
Weaver was a baseball player, pure and simple, and one whose intensity was hard to match. Love him or hate him, he will be missed.
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