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Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle announces his retirement after more than a decade in the majors

Doolittle helped the Washington Nationals win the World Series in 2019 and spent the bulk of his career with Washington and the Oakland Athletics

Washington Nationals Sean Doolittle (63) throws the first pitch prior to the Nationals game against the Atlanta Braves after announcing his retirement.
Washington Nationals Sean Doolittle (63) throws the first pitch prior to the Nationals game against the Atlanta Braves after announcing his retirement.Amber Searls (USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con)

Sean Doolittle has decided to retire from baseball after more than a decade pitching in the majors that included helping the Washington Nationals win the World Series in 2019.

Doolittle announced his decision Friday in a lengthy social media post.

The left-handed reliever spent the bulk of his career with Washington and the Oakland Athletics, earning All-Star honors in 2014 and 2018. He thanked the Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners for his brief time there, saying they gave him a better chance of landing on the Immaculate Grid.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said the team knew it was getting a tremendous reliever and person with the trade for Doolittle in 2017, adding that proved to be correct.

“A World Champion, All-Star, and leader in the clubhouse, Sean set an example of what it means to be a pillar of the community,” Rizzo said in a statement. “He was as fierce as they come on the mound and took the ball whenever he was called upon.”

Doolittle appeared in 463 games since making his debut in 2012 with the Athletics, who drafted him in the first round in 2007 as a first baseman out of the University of Virginia and then gave him an opportunity to try pitching as a pro after injuries made him contemplate retirement at the time.

“I am forever grateful to them for helping me turn a second chance into a career,” Doolittle said.

Elbow surgery and a knee injury limited Doolittle to just six appearances with the Nationals in 2022 and 11 in the minors this season. He said the World Series will always be the highlight of his career and Washington home for him and his wife, Eireann.

“He was not only a fierce competitor but is one of the finest people you’ll ever meet,” Nationals owner Mark Lerner said. “Sean and his wife, Eireann, are great examples of individuals who have used their platform and place in life to advocate for others, and I have no doubt that their impact will continue long beyond Sean’s playing career.”

As he worked to recover from elbow surgery this season, Doolittle struggled with another injury to his right knee when he tore the patella tendon.

“It just got to the point where I had an outing, which was at the time hopefully going to be my last outing in Florida, (my knee) just wasn’t going to let me do it,” Doolittle said. “It went pretty much all the way.”

During pregame Friday night, the southpaw donned his signature dark blue No. 63 Nationals jersey and was introduced to the roaring crowd as he rode in from the right field entrance in the Nats bullpen cart. He threw out the first pitch to former teammate Gerardo Parra as the crowd roared.

Doolittle said during a pregame news conference that the run to the World Series in 2019 and his connection to the fans in D.C. will always be a lasting memory of his 11-year career.

“It’s emotional, for sure,” Doolittle said. “This is all I have ever wanted to do. This was a dream I have had since I can barely remember. As I have thought about this decision I’ve thought about all the sacrifices that my family has made.

“There were times where I have been like, ‘man, I’m never going to play again’. That is sad. But I’ve been so lucky that as I look back on those moments, the gratitude outweighs the sadness.”

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