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Edmonds retires; foot injury doesn't respond

2011-02-18T09:42:00Z 2011-02-18T15:08:52Z Edmonds retires; foot injury doesn't respondBy RICK HUMMEL stltoday.com
February 18, 2011 9:42 am  • 

JUPITER, FLA. -- Jim Edmonds, perhaps the best in a long line of storied Cardinals center fielders, is retiring from baseball at age 40, one day before he was to start spring training with the Cardinals as a non-roster player.

Edmonds notified general manager John Mozeliak on Thursday night that his right Achilles' tendon, which he injured while running out a home run last year when he was playing with the Cincinnati Reds, had not responded to recent treatment, which included two platelet injections.

The Cardinals had announced the signing of Edmonds in late January, a couple of weeks after Edmonds, who was being honored at the St. Louis Baseball Writers' dinner, had called the day before the dinner to say he wasn't going to make it because his foot was bothering him too much.

Dr. George Paletta, supervisor of the Cardinals' medical staff, had spoken in recent days with Edmonds' physicians in California and Paletta told Edmonds that Edmonds was at risk of rupturing his Achilles' if he tried to comed back.

In a statement released by the Cardinals today, Edmonds said that after he spoke to Paletta "and a number of doctors about the potential risk of future permanent damage, I have decided to retire. Although I feel I can still play and contribute, the risk of permanent injury is too much for me to chance.

"As much as I regret this announcement, I feel that it is for the best."

One club official said there was no way Edmonds would pass the physical which Cardinals position players will undergo on Saturday. "I don't even think it makes sense for him to come down here if he's not going to pass the physical," said the official.

Mozeliak said, "We knew going into this that were some medical issues that were in play. We were hopeful that they could be resolved. . . but we decided it was a situation where he was not going to be able to play. And it didn't really make any sense (for him) to come down here and try to rehab.

"As much as we were excited about trying to bring him back and certainly thought it would be fun to get him back into uniform, we certainly respect his decision.

"He brought a lot of us some great memories. He was just a great personality with tremendous baseball talent. He could fill a highlight reel with the impact he had."  

Mozeliak said there had really been no financial risk because Edmonds had not been signed to a major-league contract and the club had 90 days to void his deal it if he wasn't deemed physically fit.

"In this case, he wasn't in St. Louis, so the process was just a little slower," said Mozeliak. "As we were getting closer to the writers' dinner, all of a sudden he wasn't feeling up to traveling and, at that point, we found out his foot was in a boot. So, we realized that his coming to fruition may not happen.

"He was bummed. He was kind of excited to give this one last try."

Edmonds, who also played for San Diego, the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee and Cincinnati besides the Anaheim Angels, with whom he started his big-league career in 1993, finished with 393 career homers and eight Gold Gloves, six of them as Cardinal.

He was a four-time All-Star and a member of the Cardinals' 2006 World Series championship club. Edmonds also helped propel the Cardinals into the 2004 World Series, which they lost to Boston,  with two memorable performances in Games 6 and 7 of the National League Championship Series.

In Game 6 at Busch Stadium, Edmonds hit a game-winning homer in the 12th inning to beat Houston, evening the series at three games. In Game 7, he made one of the most talked-about catches in Cardinals' history to help the Cardinals start a comeback which brought them their first World Series appearance in 17 years.

Edmonds ranks fourth on the Cardinals' home-run list at 241 and is the franchise leader in postseason games played at 61. His best season as a Cardinal probably was in 2004 when he batted .301 with a career-high-tying 42 homers and a career-high 111 runs batted in.

He finished with a .284 career average, 1,199 RBI and 1,949 hits and is regarded as a borderline Hall of Fame candidate, when his defense is factored in.

Edmonds had been acquired from the Angels by the Cardinals in spring training, 2000, for infielder Adam Kennedy and righthander Kent Bottenfield. He played eight seasons in St. Louis before being traded to San Diego before the 2008 season for Class A infielder David Freese, now the Cardinals' third baseman.

Early in the 2008 season, Edmonds was released by San Diego and signed by the Cubs, for whom Edmonds hit 19 home runs in 85 games. As a member of the Cardinals' hated enemies, Edmonds was involved in a brief sparring session with manager Tony La Russa, with whom he later made up.

After sitting out the 2009 season, but not retiring, Edmonds signed with Milwaukee last spring and later was traded to Cincinnati. He hit 11 home runs, driving in 23 runs, in a total of 86 games.

Second baseman Skip Schumaker, long championed by Edmonds when both were Cardinals' outfielders, had been in contact with Edmonds in the off-season in California but began concerned when Edmonds didn't respond to a message Schumaker had left when Schumaker wanted to take some batting practice with Edmonds.

"I didn't hear back from him so I thought something might be up still, with his ankle or Achilles' tendon," said Schumaker. "That was my first inkling that maybe he wasn't healthy. And then I didn't hear from him and he wasn't here early, so I figured something was up."

Schumaker was in several spring training camps with Edmonds and played with him a bit at the major-league level on 2006 and more in 2007.

"I thought he would have been a great addition to our team _ another veteran presence to our clubhouse. It would have been nice to have him here, taking one last shot," Schumaker said.

"Seven home runs to get to 400. Fifty (actually 51) hits to get to 2,000. I know he had some goals that would have been nice to achieve, that would have been nice to do as a Cardinal.

"He was the best veteran for me when I came up. For all rhe guys to help me out, the last guy I expected was Jim Edmonds. He was a guy I idolized growing up and watching him play. He meant the world to me, early on in my career.

"He's always been on my side.  He was very good in the mental side of it and he never hesitated to help a young guy out.

"He would have been a huge addition in this clubhouse. It's too bad it ended this way."

But, as Mozeliak concluded, "People will always associate Jim Edmonds as a St. Louis Cardinal."

 

 

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Baseball writers Derrick Goold and Rick Hummel cover the Cardinals for the Post-Dispatch and STLtoday.com. They'll provide daily Cardinals updates here, from the start of spring training through the end of the season and beyond.

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