Mike Hampton Leaves Diamondbacks And Retires

In a surprising decision, left-handed candidate for the Diamondbacks bullpen Mike Hampton has decided to retire, MLB.com reports, saying he came back to camp this morning to inform his team-mates of his decision..

"It just wasn't there. In fairness to them and fairness to myself I'm just done. It's not a decision that's easy to make. It's not one you make overnight. It had been two weeks that different thoughts have been creeping in my head. Then all of the sudden I felt, I think this is going to be it."

Hampton pitched only a tiny fraction of his time with Arizona - only 4.1 innings, in fact, of over 2,220 in a career that began with Seattle, all the way back in 1993. His best year was 1999 with Houston, when he went 22-4, posting a 2.90 ERA and coming second in the Cy Young voting, to Randy Johnson. He was also renowned for being one of the best-hitting pitchers of all time, and retires with a .246 average and 16 HR, the latter trailing only Carlos Zambrano's 19, for homers hit by a pitcher since 1970.

However, he is probably most infamous for the massive contract - eight years and $121 million - signed with the Colorado Rockies in December 2000, which at the time was the largest in professional sports - Hampton was subject to derision for his claim that he decided to move to Colorado because of the 'school system'. He lasted only two seasons in Colorado, thanks to a 5.75 ERA, before being traded to Florida. From there, he bounced around Atlanta and Houston, but lost the 2006 and 2007 season to elbow problems. He ends his career with a decent 148-115 record in 355 starts and ERA of 4.06 (ERA+ 107).

Every indication was that he was in camp to compete for a left-handed relief spot, having done well there last season. However, a lackluster performance in the Cactus League appears to have convinced Hampton it was time to hang up his glove" More and more it was just a battle. It was tougher this year than any other year to get it going." He offers up this final though. "I'm a small kid from Homosassa, Fla."Whoever thought I would have made it. Nobody had ever heard where I was from, let alone was able to point it out on a map. I think with the talent and the body type, I think I pretty much got as much out of my body as I could."

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