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Archive for Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Galarraga exits one homer shy of 400

March 30, 2005

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A home run shy of 400, Andres Galarraga decided it was time to step aside and free up a spot for a younger player.

The 43-year-old first baseman retired Tuesday after a subpar spring training with the New York Mets.

A five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner in a 19-year career, Galarraga was hitting just .235 in 17 games for the Mets this spring, with three home runs and seven RBIs. The Big Cat probably would have been left off New York's 25-man roster when the team broke camp.

"This is a sad day for me, but I honestly felt it was the right time to step away," Galarraga said in a statement. "I just wasn't playing up to the expectations that I have set for myself throughout my entire career, and I wanted to walk away on my own terms.

"Playing has been a part of my life for so long, but I just felt this was the right time to give a younger guy a chance to play."

Galarraga made his big-league debut with the Montreal Expos in 1985 and has played for St. Louis, Colorado, Texas, Atlanta, San Francisco and the Angels. He finished his career with a .288 batting average, 2,333 hits and 1,425 RBIs in 2,257 games.

"Great, great career. Great man. Great person," Mets manager Willie Randolph said in Viera, Fla., before New York's game against the Washington Nationals.

Referring to whether Galarraga would have made the 25-man roster, Randolph said: "It was going to be a tough decision. You always want to go out on your own terms, so I was happy for him. He's one of the classiest guys in the game."

Galarraga missed the 1999 season after he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, then hit .302 with 28 home runs and 100 RBIs with Atlanta in 2000. The disease reoccurred in November 2003. He underwent surgery that November and had a stem cell transplant the following February.

He hit his 399th home run with the Angels in September and signed with the Mets this offseason, hoping to hit the milestone homer before calling it quits.

"Today shows you what kind of a class individual Andres is," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "He's always handled things with class and dignity throughout his entire career, and this afternoon is another example of his high character.

In spring-training games:

Blue Jays 11, Pirates 5

At Bradenton, Fla., Gabe Gross hit his eighth homer of spring, a three-run shot. The 15th overall pick in the June 2001 draft is hitting .382 with 18 RBIs in 20 games. Carlos Delgado (2001) is the only other player in club history with eight homers in a single spring.

Padres 13, Rangers 12

At Peoria, Ariz., Xavier Nady hit a three-run home run with two outs in the 10th inning. Nady also doubled twice and drove in five runs, and likely has earned a start in center field on opening day because Dave Roberts has been slowed by a strained groin.

Red Sox 7, Yankees 2

At Tampa, Fla., the Yankees acquired minor-league catcher Wil Nieves from the Los Angeles Angels for right-hander Bret Prinz. Boston reacquired left-handed reliever Mike Myers from St. Louis. The Cardinals received two minor leaguers, outfielder Carlos de la Cruz and left-handed pitcher Kevin Ool.

Cubs 13, Brewers 6

At Phoenix, Derrek Lee hit a three-run homer and drove in five runs for the Cubs. Jeromy Burnitz went 3-for-3, and Jerry Hairston was 4-for-5 as the Cubs collected 18 hits.

Astros 7, Indians 6

At Kissimmee, Fla., Cliff Bartosh squandered a two-run lead, allowing three hits, then was traded to the Chicago Cubs for minor-league right-hander Ronald Bay. Brandon Duckworth allowed eight hits and four runs with four strikeouts in six innings.

Giants 9, Diamondbacks 5

At Scottsdale, Ariz., Jerome Williams hit a two-run triple, and struck out six in five innings for the Giants.

Rockies 4, White Sox 3

At Tucson, Ariz., Making his first start in 10 days, Mark Buehrle gave up three runs in five pain-free innings.

Cardinals 10, Marlins 5

At Jupiter, Fla., Albert Pujols went 3-for-3 with four RBIs and raised his average to .434. Pujols has six home runs and 19 RBIs, and has not struck out this spring. Mark Mulder allowed two earned run on eight hits over six innings for the Cardinals. Dontrelle Willis allowed six earned runs over 41/3 innings for Florida.

Orioles 4, Dodgers 3

At Vero Beach, Fla., Baltimore's Chris Gomez went 4-for-4, and Daniel Cabrera held Los Angeles to two runs on two hits in five innings. Dodgers starter Scott Erickson went five innings and gave up eight hits, but allowed only one unearned run while striking out three.

Athletics 10, Mariners 5

At Phoenix, Joe Blanton worked six innings and allowed eight hits and four runs for Oakland. Nick Swisher hit a three-run homer.

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