NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Saturday, December 12, 2015, 9:44 AM
Michael Cuddyer is just a role player by the time the Mets reach the World Series.
Saying “the toll on my body has finally caught up to me,” Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer wrote about his retirement on Derek Jeter’s website, the Players’ Tribune, in a piece published Saturday morning.
Cuddyer’s story, in which he concludes by saying, “I hope you know that physically, mentally and emotionally, I gave you everything I had,” comes out a day after the news broke of his impending exit.
“I’ve made the decision to retire. With one year left on my contract, it is especially difficult to imagine not suiting up in a Mets uniform for one more year,” Cuddyer wrote. “As an athlete, retiring is the toughest decision you have to make and I don’t make it lightly.
“I’ve always run out every hit like it was my last. As an untested high school kid drafted with a dream, I’ve never taken a single moment in the Majors for granted. It goes against every grain in my body to consider a future without the game. But after 15 years, the toll on my body has finally caught up to me.
“Ever since I was a kid, my mantra has been, “Play hard, dream big.” But I’ve always believed in loyalty to the game itself: the day that I can’t give it 100 percent is the day I have to walk away. Now that the day has come, it’s harder than I thought it would be.
Cuddyer played for 15 years in the majors, compiling a .277 average, .344 on-base percentage and .461 slugging percentage. He hit 197 career home runs in a career that went from Minnesota to Colorado to Queens. He was the 2013 National League batting champion with the Rockies.
Michael Cuddyer says the toll the game has taken on his body is why he is walking away.
He leaves in the middle of a two-year, $ 21-million contract with the Mets. It’s unclear how the Mets will use the savings from his contract or if there is a buyout for Cuddyer. The Mets would not comment Friday night on Cuddyer’s retirement, which first came to light when it appeared on a transactions page on mlb.com. The notation was later taken down, though the news was confirmed.
“As everybody knows, Michael throughout his 15 Major League seasons has been a complete pro,” Mets GM Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “He embodies and defines what the word “professional” means — on and off the field.
“While battling injuries this past season, he was one of our team’s true leaders in the clubhouse, playing a significant role in our National League Championship. He leaves an indelible, positive impact on our organization.
“We salute Michael on his career and thank him for his contributions to our success in 2015. We wish him, Claudia and their kids all the health and happiness.”
Cuddyer was the Mets’ big acquisition last winter, but he was slowed by injuries and watched as Michael Conforto came up from the minors and excelled. Cuddyer had core muscle surgery immediately after the season.
“Over the last four years, I was on the disabled list six times,” he wrote. “I missed 150-200 games over that time span — a broken shoulder, a strained oblique, a torn-up knee, a bulging disc in my neck. I pushed through it. Mentally, I was able to overcome it for a long time, but the physical and emotional taxation took its toll. Part of being a professional is to know yourself and to know your limits.”
During his piece on the website, Cuddyer reflected on a long list of folks who helped him along the way. He talked about looking forward to spending time with his family.
“As I’ve grown in the game, I’ve grown up as a person,” Cuddyer wrote. “This brings me to another reason for retiring, beyond the physical toll of the game. The beauty of family, once a distant idea, became an integral part of my identity. In 2006, I made the most important decision of my life when I married my wife, Claudia. She has been my rock and my constant ever since. Our relationship showed me a love greater than baseball. She has made me a better person and an even better baseball player. From our partnership, I’ve learned to value the importance of clubhouse relationships and leadership. Claudia and I now have three children: Casey, who is seven, and Chloe and Maddie, who are both four. As hard as it is to retire, I know my family deserves to have me home full-time now.
“It is time for my kids to develop their own dreams with their dad by their side.
Finally, Cuddyer offered thanks to the game he loved:
“I was one of the lucky ones who got to play the game for a living. One of the lucky ones who got the play for All-Star managers and coaches. One of the lucky ones who got to be a poster on a kid’s wall. I played baseball the way I did because I knew one day it would be over. Today’s that day.”