May 8, 2012
Blake told the Des Moines Register that he has been leaning toward stepping away after playing parts of 13 seasons with five teams, but stopped short of a decision until now.
“My wife (Abbie) has been telling people I’m retired, but I’ve kind of been giving her a look,” said Blake, 38, who attempted to make the roster of a sixth team this season at Colorado.
“But I think I knew in my heart that I am (retiring), but I just haven’t announced it.”
Blake told the Register last August that he was considering retirement since undergoing a surgery to address a pinched nerve in his neck.
The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired the Indianola native from Cleveland in 2008.
Blake helped Los Angeles reach the playoffs in 2008 and ’09 as the team won the National League West both seasons.
Blake, whose Major League career dates to 1999, is a career .264 hitter with 167 home runs and 616 RBIs.
“My career has to end at some point,” Blake said Tuesday. “If I was going to play, it would probably only be one more year anyway.
“I just decided to shut it down. And I’m OK with the decision.”
Blake said the Rangers initiated talks twice with his agent, and circled back the second time after Texas infielder Adrian Beltre was sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Texas general manager JonCQ Daniels confirmed to the Register, through the Rangers media relations department, that they had attempted to sign Blake.
“I had a pretty good opportunity with Texas, or what could’ve been a good opportunity,” he said. “They called and needed a right-handed bat, someone to platoon in the outfield, maybe play a little backup first base.
“My agent had a pretty lengthy conversation with their GM, Jon Daniels, and they talked pretty openly about where I was mentally. It’s funny — a couple days later, Adrian Beltre went down with the a hamstring and they called back, ‘Hey, would he reconsider?’
“I was flattered that somebody still wanted me, but I wasn’t as excxited as I needed to be about playing again. I guess my heart wasn’t in it.
“The last couple of years, I didn’t want to deal with the mental and physical grind anymore.”
Blake starred in college at Wichita State before embarking on a professional baseball career. There were times it appeared he might not land a long-term shot in the big-leagues, as played less than 20 games per season from 1999-2002 with Toronto, Minnesota and Baltimore.
He earned his biggest break in 2003 as a full-time starter for the Cleveland Indians, hitting 17 home runs and driving in 67 during 152 games.
Blake, primarily a third baseman during his career, developed a reputation as a dependable bat in the lineup — hitting 10 or more home runs for 10 consecutive seasons.
“I thought he was excellent hitter — he was always a major-league hitter,” said Tim McClelland, of West Des Moines, who has umpired in the majors for 30 years. “He did what he had to do. He didn’t always get a a lot of glory or stardom, but he was a a great team player.
“He’s a good guy to have on your team.”
Blake and his wife, Abbie, are the parents of five children — four girls, with the youngest child being 15-month-old Mady.
The Blakes live near Indianola and have started a foundation in their hometown that could deliver millions.
For Blake, this will be the first time he’s been home full-time in the spring since being a high school senior in 1992.
“It is a little weird,” he said. “I had a little feeling (about wanting to play) last night (Monday) watching the Minnesota game on TV.
“But I don’t know what’s tougher, the mental grind or physical grind. And my neck (injury), I didn’t want to deal with it all year. That played a big part in it. So I’m done, and I’m OK with it.”