D-backs’ Chavez announces retirement, ending illustrious career

PHOENIX — Eric Chavez, a star in Oakland who seemed well on his way to a Hall of Fame career until injuries struck, announced his retirement Wednesday because of a chronic knee condition.

Chavez, 36, spent the last two of his 17 major league seasons in Arizona, and only Paul Goldschmidt had a more productive D-backs’ bat in 2013 than Chavez, despite a regimen that included hours in the training room virtually every day to accommodate knee, back and shoulder woes.

Chavez has filed retirement papers with Major League Baseball, and by doing so will forfeit about $1 million in salary for the final two months of the 2014 season, according to reports. Chavez announced his retirement in an interview with Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and said he wouldn’t have felt right being paid for the remainder of his contract while sitting out the rest of the season on the disabled list.

Chavez had 212 home runs and six Gold Gloves by the time he was 28, in 2006, and he helped Oakland to five AL West titles and one appearance in the ALCS as part of the Moneyball group that general manager Billy Beane assembled. Chavez had a career-high 43 doubles and 114 RBI in 2002, the season on which Michael Lewis’ book is based, and hit a career-high 34 home runs with 109 RBI the next season. 

He has been on the disabled list since June 9 with a sprained left knee, and he had discontinued treatment in recent weeks in the hope that rest would help the recovery process. Chavez had surgery to repair a bulging disc in 2007 and had undergone three shoulder surgeries since. He played more than 80 games only once since then, when he hit .281 with nine homers and 44 RBI with the D-backs last season.

The 10th player taken in the 1996 draft out of Mount Carmel High in San Diego, Chavez was in the majors two years later and never left. He hit .268 with 260 home runs and 902 RBI.

He spent 13 seasons with Oakland, then played two years with the New York Yankees before signing with the Arizona, where he makes his home, prior to the 2013 season.

Chavez, who often hit fourth last season to give Goldschmidt some protection, averaged one RBI every 5.2 at-bats last season while playing regularly the first two months of the season. He suffered a strained oblique muscle on May 31, 2013, and was limited after that. 

"I’m very lucky," Chavez told Heyman. "I just enjoyed competing and being on the field. … It’s been a great ride."

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