Hughes' 10-year MLB 'sprint' comes to close

February 15th, 2021

PITTSBURGH -- For 10 years, when ' name was called to pitch, fans knew what to expect: A 6-foot-7 reliever running to the mound like his life depended on it.

That constant will end in 2021, however. Hughes announced on Sunday through Instagram that he is retiring from baseball: “I’ve hung up my cleats. It was time. They were worn out from all the sprinting.”

Hughes, 35, pitched in 542 career games across stints with the Pirates, Brewers, Reds, Phillies and Mets. In all, he recorded a 2.96 ERA with 12 saves sprinkled in.

The majority of Hughes’ MLB tenure came with the Pirates, who drafted him in the fourth round of the 2006 MLB Draft from Cal State-Long Beach. The right-hander put up a 2.82 ERA in 313 games over six seasons with Pittsburgh.

But arguably more influential than his numbers was his personality. A picture day never passed by without Hughes striking a funny pose. He was always smiling and willing to share stories and banter. His Twitter feed was a source of baseball fun, including an entire saga of his DIY pitching mound during the 2020 shutdown.

Oh yeah, and he was adamant about sprinting in from the bullpen. It was a tradition he started in 2011 while pitching at Triple-A Indianapolis, when he said he saw better results after doing it. He was called up to the big leagues soon after, and he never stopped the tradition. It even led to a classic moment during his time with Philadelphia, when the sprint received a hint of an eye-roll from teammate J.T. Realmuto, who laughed it off as "bad timing."

Hughes was also a very reliable reliever. He posted two full seasons with a sub-2.00 ERA (1.96 in 2014 and 1.94 in ‘18). From 2014-19, he made at least 60 appearances each season. Hughes’ career ERA+ is a sterling 137, where 100 is league average.

And that wasn't the only big news from Hughes in the Instagram post: He also said his wife, Kelly, had opened her own estate-planning law practice.

Maybe with more free time, Hughes can put that handmade mound to good use. Just make sure to take it easy on 2014 Tucker Barnhart.