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DeRosa to retire after 16 big league seasons

DeRosa to retire after 16 big league seasons

DeRosa to retire after 16 big league seasons

TORONTO -- Veteran infielder Mark DeRosa has informed the Blue Jays that he has decided to retire after 16 years in the Major Leagues.

Toronto recently picked up its $750,000 club option on DeRosa's contract for next season, but his status had been in limbo for the past several weeks.

DeRosa was weighing a return for one more year, but he previously talked at length about wanting to spend more time with his family. It would appear as though that desire ultimately won out.

"I walk away with tons of friends, hopefully the respect of my peers, tons of memories, and proud of the fact that I was able to compete at the highest level in my profession for a long time," DeRosa said at the end of the season. "Something not a lot of guys were able to do. So I hold my head high."

DeRosa had been plagued by a severe wrist injury for the past several years, but he found a way to remain healthy while with the Blue Jays in 2013. He hit .235 with seven homers, 36 RBIs and a respectable .733 OPS. DeRosa was especially valuable against left-handed pitchers, and his presence in the Blue Jays' clubhouse will be sorely missed.

The 38-year-old played for eight organizations and finishes his career with a .268 average and 494 RBIs. His final home run -- No. 100 for his career -- came on July 27 against Houston's Dallas Keuchel. He never made an All-Star team but was considered a very professional hitter who had a lot of versatility in the field.

DeRosa likely won't have much difficulty finding work now that his playing days are over. He would be a natural choice as a future broadcaster (after working on TBS' telecasts this past postseason), while multiple organizations would be interested in his services as a coach considering his ability to connect with -- and mentor -- younger players.

"I'm happy with what I've done in my career," DeRosa said. "I'm not 100 percent happy with the way I've played this year, but I did a lot of good things. I've proved a lot of things to myself, which is what I wanted to do.

"I'm 38 years old and I can come back from a traumatic injury -- after three years of being unproductive, I helped us win some ballgames. So I'm proud for the fact that I didn't walk away, that I grinded through what was a tough situation for a couple of years and was able to reestablish myself as a pretty good ballplayer."

DeRosa exceeded a lot of expectations during his only season in Toronto. He was brought in as the 25th man on the roster, and one of his main duties was to provide some guidance to young third baseman Brett Lawrie. The two hit it off during Spring Training and were seemingly attached at the hip, but in the end, DeRosa's role proved to be much greater than that.

The former seventh-round pick in the 1996 First-Year Player Draft received some starts at second base and third because of injuries, and he also proved to be a solid platoon partner with designated hitter Adam Lind. Perhaps most shocking was that DeRosa ended up starting as the cleanup hitter in eight games, a testament to his resurgence in power that stemmed from a healthy wrist.

"It's just affirmation for me that I put in a lot of time and effort," DeRosa said. "I was hurt. I knew I was hurt. I knew I couldn't compete at this level for a while. So to be able to come back and for everything to settle, I feel like it's a positive year.

"I think it would have been a very easy decision if I was sitting here in agony all year. I think it makes it tougher, because I think I'm still capable of playing at this level."

DeRosa's decision doesn't exactly come as a surprise, but it does mean the Blue Jays are now officially in the market for another bench player. The club will need to find a suitable platoon partner for Lind, who has struggled against left-handed pitching throughout his career.

One possible solution is having outfielder Moises Sierra make the transition to first base. Sierra is out of options on his contract and recently began taking ground balls at first in winter ball, in an effort to increase his overall versatility.

With Lind and Edwin Encarnacion on the 25-man roster, Sierra wouldn't have to play a lot of first base, but he will still need to prove he can handle the position when required. Sierra's defense in the outfield is erratic, and his inability to play center field means the club likely will have to carry a more traditional fourth outfielder.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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