Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nomar Retires

Nomar Garciaparra signed a one-day minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox for the purpose of announcing his retirement.

He made the announcement at the Red Sox spring training facilities in Fort Myers, Florida.

Garciaparra made his MLB debut with the Red Sox late in the 1996 season. He would be named AL Rookie of the Year in 1997 when he collected a league leading 209 hits while batting .306. Nomar would be an instrumental part of the 1998 and 1999 AL Wild Card champion Red Sox. He finished runner up to Juan Gonzalez in the vote for the 1998 AL MVP. He would capture back to back AL batting titles in 1999 and 2000 hitting .357 and .372, respectively.

Nomar was part of a triumvirate of power hitting shortstops along with Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Although he missed nearly the entire 2001 season with his wrist injury he would hit over .300 and have 100 plus RBI seasons in both 2002 and 2003.

However, Nomar would fall out of favor with the Red Sox ownership team of John Henry and Tom Werner for his propensity to swing at the first pitch, his declining range at short and the injury bug. The Red Sox would trade Nomar to the Chicago Cubs on July 31, 2004 in a four team deal which brought Orlando Cabrera to Boston. Many believe this was the turning point in the Red Sox season which would result in their first World Series title since 1918. Indeed, came the equation 1918 + 34 + 33 + 24 - 5 = 2004. Translation: 1918 plus David Ortiz plus Jason Varitek plus Manny Ramirez minus Nomar equals 2004.

Nomar's post-Red Sox career was spotty although he was named NL Comeback Player of the Year in 2006 with the Dodgers when he hit .303 with 20 home runs and 93 RBI. However, the injury bug returned and he would finish his career last season with the Oakland Athletics. Last July, nearly five years after being traded away, Nomar returned to Fenway Park with a warm standing ovation.

Nomar finished his big league career with a .313 lifetime batting average, two AL batting titles, six All-Star Game appearances (five in the AL & one in the NL) and five post-season appearances. He will join ESPN as a baseball analyst.

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