Pitcher Luke Hochevar has retired from baseball, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports. The 34-year-old right-hander underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome two years ago but is still unable to pitch without pain. Hochevar said it was evident last year he would not be able to pitch again in the majors. He said, “There was just no way. That was it. I got up to the 80 percent [recovery] which you’re supposed to and it just wasn’t working. It was hurting just to throw. No way I could have ever gotten back to this level to get guys out. Just too much pain.”
Hochevar continued, “I mean, it hurt to throw out [the ceremonial first pitch on Sunday]. But I’m very happy with where I am. Very content. I’m thankful for all I had in this game. The game was very good to me. I had a long run. I’m happy with that. Now I get to do things anytime I want. I get to farm. I get to have my ministry hunts. It’s all good.”
Hochevar spent parts of nine seasons in the majors, all with the Royals. He began his career as a starter but transitioned into the bullpen in 2013. All together, he posted a career ERA of 4.98 with 702 strikeouts and 299 walks in 929 1/3 innings. According to Baseball Reference, Hochevar earned north of $30 million over his career.
On Sunday, Blue Jays closer Ken Giles spoke to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star. Giles said, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston.” Giles won a World Series with the Astros last year, but talked about communication issues with the Astros and compared them unfavorably to the Blue Jays. Giles described the communication as having been “lost” and credited the Jays for staying patient with him.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch responded to Giles’ comments on Monday. Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Hinch said:
I think he’s wrong and I’m disappointed that he would go down that path given how much work and time and energy and communication that our front office, our coaching staff, me, we all went through this with him. And I understand, there was some disappointment in his tenure as an Astro because of the turbulent way things went about. We gave him every opportunity, we communicated with him effectively, we have an incredible culture where every single player will tell you it’s one of the best cultures they’ve had, one of the best communication envrionments they’ve had. They all know their roles. They all know their situations. To have one person out of all the guys in our clubhouse come out and claim otherwise is flat wrong.
While Giles certainly could be embellishing or deliberately misconstruing his time there, Hinch’s rebuttal doesn’t actually disqualify anything Giles said. Giles certainly could have had a negative experience in Houston even if everyone else was enjoying the “incredible culture” and “one of the best communication environments.”
Given how the Astros — including Hinch — responded to criticism about their acquiring an accused domestic abuser, they’re not in the best position to boast about an “incredible culture” anyway.
At any rate, this is a he-said, he-said situation. If anything more comes of it, it will be Giles further torching a bridge.