© 2009 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
08/11/09 10:20 PM ET
Percival prepared to call it a career
Rays righty would need 'something miraculous' to return
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Troy Percival paid a visit to the Rays' clubhouse on Tuesday and all but announced his retirement. When asked if he was done, the veteran closer said: "I would venture to say that unless something miraculous happens. There's no need going out when you can't throw more than once in four days." After going on the 60-day disabled list with right-shoulder tendinitis on May 22, Percival returned to his home in the Anaheim area and rested for three weeks before starting to pay regular visits to a chiropractor and a muscle therapist. He did not throw a ball other than playing catch with his kids. Eventually he received a call from Andrew Friedman, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations, who told him the Rays could use him. At that point, Percival tried to ramp up his game again to see if anything was left. "I threw six bullpens over three weeks," Percival said. "Friday, Sunday, Friday, Sunday, Friday, Sunday, and every Sunday was just awful. I could throw OK on Friday, but the Sunday one was awful. It's just not going to work." Percival said that several times while reflecting in hindsight he has thought he tried to come back from offseason back surgery too soon this season. "But I knew this was going to be my last year regardless and I didn't want to sit out six to eight months," Percival said. "That would have put me at the halfway point. And I thought I could do it. I guess at 40 it doesn't recover quite like it did. "When I was younger, I always came back fast and lasted. If you look at any of my numbers [this season], when I had a few days off I was pretty good. And if I pitched a couple of times over four or five days, I would struggle. And that's not real good when you're in the bullpen. It doesn't work out real well." Rays manager Joe Maddon originally knew Percival when both were in the Angels' organization and Maddon actually helped with Percival's conversion from catcher to pitcher. "He's one of the best closers of all time," Maddon said. Maddon added that a lot of people forget how much Percival did for the Rays in 2008, and how much he had to do with changing the team's culture. Included in his role was helping to mentor the some of the young relievers in the Rays' bullpen like J.P. Howell, who is now the team's closer. "I told him he could be the guy, that he could do it," Percival said. "Not only that, those guys down there are ready. Last year they needed a little guidance. They needed to see what it takes to get the job done. These guys are awesome now. ... They didn't need me down there anchoring them anymore. And I mean anchoring them." Percival said he still wishes he were playing, but added: "My mind is clear." "I know I physically just can't do it," he said. Percival said he "cherished" his days with the Angels and Cardinals before joining the Rays, adding: "And my time here in Tampa, what we did last year was probably one of the biggest accomplishments I had in my career, just to be a part of that." But is it safe to say that he is now retired? "I don't think you're retired until the paperwork is in," Percival said. "But it's safe to say that right now, I just don't see that I'm going to be able to throw a whole lot."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.