Chavez retires rather than push ailing knee
Third baseman most proud of six Gold Glove Awards in 17-season career
PHOENIX -- After a career hampered by back injuries, it was a degenerative knee condition that pushed Eric Chavez into retirement.
The veteran third baseman officially announced the end of his career on Wednesday after 17 years in the Major Leagues with the A's, Yankees and D-backs.
"If you look at all the injuries I had, it's a miracle that I played for 17 years," Chavez said.
"I've honestly been thinking about it for the last three years. Every offseason, after the season had ended, I went back home and kind of had evaluated where I was at mentally and physically, and I knew that if I got the itch to start working out and preparing myself for the next season, I probably was going to play."
Chavez said before he went on the disabled list on June 9 that his left knee had been causing him pain before the season even began. With each update from manager Kirk Gibson, his chances of returning this season grew fainter.
"This year, with the knee, I think physically, what the doctors had told me, for me to keep grinding on my knee was not going to be the best option for me to do," he said.
The knee injury relegated Chavez to a part-time role, and he rarely saw the field. But when he did, he still provided the solid defense that led to him winning six Gold Glove Awards at third base -- tied for fourth most all-time behind Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt and Scott Rolen, and tied with Buddy Bell and Robin Ventura.
"The six Gold Gloves probably mean the most," Chavez said, when asked about his personal achievements. "Early on in my career, they said I was a 'all-hit, no-glove' kind of guy.
"I think guys now, they're like, 'Hey, Chavvy can roll out of bed and hit,' but defense wasn't always like that for me. I really had to work for everything I did to become a good defensive third baseman."
Gibson, who retired in the middle of the 1995 season, said he could relate to Chavez.
"We respect his decision to decide that it's time for him to move to a different chapter in his life, actually a bigger game than he's played his whole life. He doesn't know it yet, but he's going to find out.
"I know what it's like when you're trying to get out of bed every day and it hurts and it hurts."
Chavez even joked about his now-former manager's knee issues when he mentioned part of the reason for retiring was to make sure he didn't permanently damage his knee.
"I had to start looking towards the future. I see guys with bad knees walking around, and I'm like, 'Oh, I don't want to be that guy,'" he said. "You look at Gibby running around, and you're like, 'Oh, man. He's pretty beat up.'"
Chavez retires with a .268 career average, 1,477 hits, 260 home runs and 902 RBIs in 1,615 games.