Three Choose Retirement; Peterson Returns

   When a player decides to leave the game and is still under contract, he must write the commissioner's office to inform them of the fact. His name is then placed on the voluntary retired list. There it will remain in perpetuity, it would seem.

   A perusal of the Dodger list is a trip through the archives of those that might have been. There's lefthander Ronnie Walden, the top draft choice in 1990, who broke in with three marvelous starts for Great Falls only to injure his arm. He gave it up in 1993.

There's catcher Byron Baar who rose to the Dodger roster only to drop back, then leave to become a banker. Catcher Mike Nixon quit this game a couple of years ago to go back to football. He's a defensive back for Arizona State now.

   Their names are kept on the role because if they decide to try, try again like Jim Morris of "The Rookie" fame, their rights are still held by the respective teams. Wait, a minute, there's Morris on the Dodger list. too.

    That's because when Jim decided to give it a final whirl he signed a minor league contract with L.A. in 2001. Came to spring training, threw a couple of bullpens, decided that another miracle cure was not about to happen and left to promote the book and movie and ultimately become a motivational speaker.

    Of course, most players are either released or become free agents before the second try. That's what happened to Morris the first time around and why Roger Clemens is now up for grabs as he ponders  return number, let's see, is it 10 or 11? I lose count.

   This year three Dodgers in the minors have declared their retirement. However, one who left before is back again. Those who've decided "enough" are lefthander Justin Simmons, righthander Wayne Renfrow and catcher Nick Conte. The come-backer is first baseman James Peterson.

  Simmons, who split last season between Las Vegas (0-0, 6.00) and Jacksonville (1-3, 3.94) didn't report this spring, notifying the club he has a good job now that he doesn't want to leave. Renfrow and Conte, though, were in Dodgertown but reckoned the odds and bowed out.

  Renfrow had been a free agent signee late in the summer when the Gulf Coast squad was running short of pitchers. He was one of the differences in their winning the division  with an 0.96 ERA in three vital games. However, he's 23 now, a bit old for the low minors.

After Stan Conte left San Francisco to become the Dodger director of medical services, the team also purchased the contract of his son Nick, who had been in the Giants system. But Nick who had hit only .153 in low A, is 27 and couldn't fight his way through the crowd to make the upper minors. So, he departed, too.

  However, James Peterson called the Dodgers and said he'd like to return and DeJon Watson replied, "Come on down" or its equivalent. He's a 6-0, 210 first baseman from Iowa who at one time had ranked second on the alltime list of high school home run hitters. He had ripped up his knee in junior college, then signed in 2003 and rehabbed.

  In 2004, he gave a glimmer of what he could be when he hit .295 with six homers in the Gulf Coast League. The next year he moved up to Columbus (and to the outfield, as well) and was hitting .243 with just two homers when he packed his bags and left. Now, he's in the extended spring camp to see if the old power is still there.

   The others who left will have their names enrolled on the retired list alongside those who departed before like Judd Granzow, an outfielder with sock but who was quite religious and found the pro environment too offensive, or Kevin Culmo, a pitcher who impressed but left because he missed his girl friend too much. 

Hey, Sandy Koufax is somewhere on the list, too. Probably still throws better than most of the active pitchers.

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