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After setback, Tolleson announces retirement

January 16, 2019

ARLINGTON -- Reliever Shawn Tolleson, who was the Rangers' Pitcher of the Year in 2015, has decided to retire from baseball after experiencing another setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery."It just wasn't happening no matter how much work I put into it," Tolleson said. "I have been driving

ARLINGTON -- Reliever Shawn Tolleson, who was the Rangers' Pitcher of the Year in 2015, has decided to retire from baseball after experiencing another setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
"It just wasn't happening no matter how much work I put into it," Tolleson said. "I have been driving to Arlington every day for the last year, putting in the time to get myself into extremely good shape, but it just wasn't happening. My elbow was not ready to throw a baseball like it used to."
Tolleson pitched for Texas from 2014-16 before signing as a free agent with Tampa Bay. But he never pitched for the Rays, as he underwent Tommy John surgery on May 17, 2017.
The Rangers signed him as a Minor League free agent last winter in the hopes that he would be able to pitch again at some point during the 2018 season. But he suffered a strained right flexor tendon at the end of Spring Training and did not pitch at all last season.
Instead, Tolleson continued to rehab the elbow, and Texas offered him a chance to compete for a job in Spring Training this year on a Minor League contract. Tolleson said everything was going well until the flexor tendon started bothering him while warming up on Friday.
"Just felt that I reaggravated my elbow," Tolleson said. "Over the weekend it didn't get any better, and I started having a lot of doubts creep into my head as to whether this was God's plan for me or not. I just felt it was the exact same injury that took me several months to get over the first time."
Tolleson had the elbow examined but did not bother with another MRI. He knew he had the same injury that set him back last season.

"For the last three months, everything has been going good, everything has been smooth," Tolleson said. "My bullpens were good and my arm felt good, and I was actually feeling really confident and excited about coming to Spring Training and competing for a spot.
"When the injury first occurred on Friday, I was very discouraged and bummed by it. I had already made the decision, I am going to give it a year and do everything I can possible it takes to make it to Spring Training and compete for a spot. I told myself if I am not ready by Spring Training 2019, it is probably about time to do something else."
Tolleson discussed the situation with his wife, Lynley, and Rangers general manager Jon Daniels before making a final decision. Daniels told Tolleson that if he wasn't ready to compete for a job in Spring Training, it would be better if he didn't come at all. Daniels also told him that Texas wouldn't likely have any room at Triple-A, either.
Tolleson said Daniels spoke very respectfully, and he appreciated the honesty.
"It made my decision easier," Tolleson said. "What I was praying for was clarity in the decision, and [Daniels] was very very helpful in helping me make that. I just came to terms it was time to move on."
Tolleson and his family still live in Allen, the town north of Dallas where he grew up. He had already been through one Tommy John surgery as a senior at Allen High School.
He recovered from that and pitched at Baylor before being selected by the Dodgers in the 30th round of the 2010 MLB Draft. He pitched for Los Angeles as a reliever in '12 but missed most of '13 because of back surgery.
Texas claimed him off waivers that winter, and it wound up being one of the shrewdest moves they ever made. Tolleson was an effective reliever in 2014, pitching in 64 games with a record of 3-1, a 2.76 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP.
The following season, Tolleson became the Rangers' closer and saved 35 games for a team that won the American League West title. But he wasn't the same pitcher in 2016. He lost his job as closer, landed on the disabled list with more back issues and became a free agent after refusing outright assignment.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.