Mike Lieberthal hangs up spikes

Catcher Mike Lieberthal, who backed up Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Russell Martin last season for the Dodgers and saw action in only 38 games, has decided to retire after a 14-year big league career with the Phillies and Dodgers. He made the announcement at a charity soccer game hosted by Nomar and Mia Garciaparra.

"I'm done," Lieberthal told the Associated Press. "I decided a couple weeks after the season ended. If [the Dodgers] had picked up my option, I probably would have played one more year. But I didn't want to go anywhere else."

The 36-year-old Lieberthal played his first 13 seasons with Philadelphia before signing with the Dodgers last winter. He had hit .274 with 150 homers and played in two All-Star Games with the Phillies.

The Dodgers declined the option they had on Lieberthal for 2008. Lieberthal played in only 38 games last season (starting 17 of them and the Dodgers were 3-14 in his starts) as a backup to Russell Martin. Lieberthal hit .234 (18-for-77) with no homers and one run batted in.

"There were a lot of reasons," Lieberthal said. "Being in a backup role, you still put in the work, but you don't get to see the satisfaction of playing. It's kind of like Groundhog Day when you go on the field. The money was great as a backup, but I have made enough money in baseball. I just didn't want to go through what I have to go through with my body to play 20-25 games a year. It's not worth it."

Lieberthal said he would like to stay in the game in some capacity, perhaps in the broadcasting field if the opportunity presents itself, but he has little interest in coaching because he believes that would require him to return to the low minors and work his way up.

The Dodgers signed free-agent Gary Bennett to a one-year contract to back up Martin.

Lieberthal spoke before a charity celebrity soccer match at Home Depot Center in nearby Carson hosted by Dodgers infielder Nomar Garciaparra and his wife, soccer star Mia Hamm. Lieberthal had agreed to take part despite never having played soccer in his life.

The soccer event list of celebrities included Anthony Lapaglia, Milo Ventamiglia from Heroes, Elisabeth Shue, the sister of Andrew Shue and Eric Braeden from ER.

?As for the Dodgers contingent, besides Nomar and Lieberthal, the players included GM Ned Colletti and assistant GM Kim Ng, both of whom played for Team Nomar. Ned told us before the game that he had already pulled something in his leg during pregame stretching. There is no indication he will be placed on the disabled list.