RailCats cleanup hitter Rico Washington retires
By Michael Osipoff 648-3139 or email@example.com June 15, 2012 10:58PM
Updated: July 17, 2012 12:48PM
The RailCats have suffered another blow to their roster.
Former major leaguer Rico Washington, their starting third baseman and cleanup hitter, has retired, the team announced on Friday.
Washington — a 34-year-old in his 15th pro season, including 19 at-bats in 14 games with the Cardinals in 2008 — had not played since getting hit by a pitch on the right hand on Saturday against Newark.
RailCats manager Greg Tagert and the organization received letters from Washington late Thursday night informing them of his decision.
“It certainly was a surprise. ... He just let us know he thought it was time,” said Tagert, who had exchanged texts and email on Friday with Washington, but had yet to speak as of the afternoon; Washington apparently had been too emotional to talk.
“I don’t know if it’s been on his mind for some time. I’m just speculating, but maybe the injury the last couple days and the time it was going to take for him to get back, and the travel, it all added up.”
Washington — who was hitting .301 with a home run and 17 RBI, second on the team, in 22 games — had left the RailCats on Wednesday to visit his wife and children in suburban Phoenix, and was scheduled to meet the team on Friday in Amarillo. He apparently has been upset that his family had been unable to join him in Gary so far this season.
But as recently as Wednesday, Washington had gotten in extra conditioning. The target had been for him to resume baseball activities on Friday and ideally return to the lineup for Monday’s series opener in Laredo.
“There was no indication he was retiring,” said Tagert, whose team also released center fielder Sean Smith, who signed after Jason James abruptly retired earlier this season. “He has nothing more to a attain as a player, except the love of the game.”
Before Washington, would-be ace Bear Bay signed with the Padres to pitch with their Triple-A affiliate shortly before the start of the season, and starting center fielder James retired.