|Paul Shuey Retires: 'It's A Sad Day'|
Paul Shuey has decided to end the agony and retire.
The right-handed reliever made the decision Wednesday after pitching two innings Monday for the Akron Aeros -- his sixth rehab assignment with the team in a long career riddled by injuries.
Shuey, 34, signed by the Indians in January to a minor-league contract, just could not overcome a third operation on his hip.
"It is a sad day," Shuey told Frank Derry of Indians Ink.
"It is pretty much the end of the baseball career and that's always tough to think about it actually being over, especially when I know that I'm leaving and still probably can get some guys out with my 84-86 mph pitches.
"I can still throw the split and the curves, but the first night here when I threw I had the pain that I had in 2003 in the back of the hip. I pushed it up to 87 (mph) and it is just not going to be worth it to take the rest of my hip's longevity out to try and pitch in the big leagues again.
"As soon as you are sitting there again with your hip throbbing again and limping around, you realize this isn't what we had hoped. I had spent two months trying to get to where maybe I could throw again, trying to get some of the velocity back.
"The writing was pretty much there for me as soon as I had pain. As soon as I got here, with some fans and everything, had the little juices flowing, it bit and that's what I needed to know."
Shuey did admit that he is not absolutely, positively calling it quits because deep down he still loves to pitch.
"I'm not going to say that I won't do that (sit out and try to come back next year) because I don't know," he said. "The only way that will happen is if the actual joint is able to create enough cartilage to where there isn't a spur that is crushing into the back end of that joint.
"I haven't been able to stride past six feet in a long time. When you can't stride and rotate, there is a serious loss of power. I had hoped that the power loss would go from 95 to 92 or 91 and it ended up being 10 mph, which I think is pretty hard to overcome."
Shuey said he will always feel a connection to the Indians and Cleveland fans.
"I feel like I'm an Indian and I have always felt very connected with the team even when I was in L.A.," he said. "All the games I could watch, I would do it. It is such a great organization.
"There is no doubt in my mind or my wife's mind that this is where we wanted to come and see if it could happen again. If it didn't work out, I wanted to finish up an Indian and if it did work out, I wanted to get back as an Indian.
"With so many great years where we were in the playoffs every year, I just hope the crew that they have now can get back to that territory where they rule the division and you feel that it is automatic that you get into the playoffs and it is just a matter of whether you are going to get back to the World Series."
Shuey's tone of resignation was considerably different from when he reported to Akron on Monday, when he was cautiously optimistic.
"I'm working to get my hip strengthened and get my velocity up,'' Shuey told reporters when he reported to Akron after spending time at the Indians' extending spring training camp in Winter Haven, Fla. "At my best, I'm around 94-96 miles per hour, and now I'm hovering somewhere around 85 mile per hour. So, I'm still a good ways off. The plan is to pitch here out of the bullpen, and if I still feel good and get results, then I move along."
Shuey, however, apparently decided enough was enough after allowing one run on two walks and two hits in a two-inning stint Monday in which he reportedly felt discomfort while trying to cover first base.
Shuey, drafted with the second pick overall in 1992, was on the disabled list 13 times after making his major-league debut with the Indians by pitching a scoreless inning in Baltimore on May 8, 1994. In many of those instances, he did a rehab assignment in Akron, pitching for the Aeros in 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for three pitchers on July 28, 2002, his ailments continued. He pitched only 5 2/3 innings in the minors in 2004 after having surgery on his right thumb and a third operation on his hip and nearly retired last July.
"I have my good days and bad days," he said in February shortly after reporting to the Indians' training camp. "I really don't know what I'm capable of doing. I do know the stabbing pain in the front of the hip is gone."
Several teams showed interest in him last winter, but he decided to come "home" for one last chance at resuming his career.
"I had to rehab a lot of stuff in Cleveland," he said after signing. "These guys are good at it. If I tell them I've got to shut it down for a day or two, they're not going to question me."
Now, however, it looks like he is going to shut it down for good and head back home to North Carolina after compiling a 45-27 record with 22 saves and a 3.57 ERA in 451 games in the majors, all in relief.