While we are waiting for the owners and the players association to agree on terms for a 2020 season, a couple of former Minnesota Twins players have decided to leave the sport. Last week, Brandon brought us news that a former outfield staple for the Twins was contemplating retirement. This week, that player has made a decision; another not-so-well-known former pitcher has also decided to hang it up.
According to Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors, Denard Span has made the decision to officially retire. I won’t fully recap Span’s career here; you can read Brandon’s great piece that I linked to above. Span was drafted by the Twins in the first round of the 2002 MLB Draft and arguably saw his best years in Minnesota, slashing .284/.357/.746 with 23 homers and 230 RBI over five seasons. He was a base-stealing machine, stealing 90 baggies while being caught 28 times for the Twins. He was traded to the Washington Nationals for Alex Meyer after the 2012 season and played three years in the nation’s capitol. He continued to hit well and steal bases for the Nats - .292/.345/.404, 14 home runs, 106 RBI, 62 stolen bases. Span then signed on with the San Francisco Giants and play in the Bay Area for two years before signing on with the Tampa Bay Rays before being traded to the Seattle Mariners. He would have his option bought out for 2019, not seeing any playing time for any club. Span is one of many players who have recently expressed disdain for the current free agency climate in MLB, according to Adams’ article.
Fun fact: On this day in 2017, Ervin Santana notched a bases-clearing double to center field in San Fran where none other than Denard Span was playing that game; feel free to re-live that experience by clicking here.
Best wishes to Span and his family during his retirement!
Switching gears... The former pitcher that decided to leave the sport is Ryan O’Rourke, and he announced his decision on Twitter last night. He didn’t want to call it a retirement, per se, but more of a “hanging it up” situation as he is pursuing a new career in finance and sales. Good for him, because I am too socially awkward and anxious to even consider a job in either field.
To jog your memory, O’Rourke was drafted by the Twins in 2010 and made the majors in 2015 out of the bullpen. To put it nicely, he didn’t do very well, posting a 6.14 ERA (4.77 FIP) in 28 games and 22 innings of work. He had an okay K/9 of 9.8, but his BB/9 was a high 6.1. He came back to pitch 26 games in 2016 and fared a bit better, posting a 3.96 ERA (4.11 FIP) over 25 innings of work with a K/9 of 8.6 and a BB/9 of 3.6, improving his K/BB to 2.40. He did not pitch in 2017 due to left elbow surgery, and following the season he elected free agency. O’Rourke signed on with the Baltimore Orioles for the 2018 season, staying in the minors before becoming a free agent again and signing with the New York Mets organization. He pitched 1.1 scoreless, hitless innings for the Mets before being released in August 2019, only to be signed by the Twins again and then being granted his release into free agency.
To jog your memory further, it was reported back in 2017 that the pitcher would vomit before coming into a game. Ah yes, now you remember who I’m talking about. O’Rourke admitted this to then-Twins beat reporter Mike Berardino of the St Paul Pioneer Press, stating that fellow bullpen mates would follow him with a trash bag before he went onto the field, even in the minors. Stress, I tell you what.
A lot of fun little stories have popped up on O’Rourke’s Twitter post, which is linked a couple of paragraphs above. Tyler Duffey, Kyle Gibson, Caleb Theilbar, and more wrote some nice comments on the pitcher’s decision and their experiences with him. Duffey’s comment leads to a nice thread with O’Rourke and Trevor Plouffe!
Good luck on your future endeavors, O’Rourke!