Mike Lieberthal declared himself retired Saturday, ending a 14-year career as a major league catcher that included two trips to the All-Star game. Lieberthal, 36, spent last season with the Dodgers, playing sparingly behind Russell Martin.
“I’m done,” Lieberthal said at the Home Depot Center in Carson, where he played in the Celebrity Soccer Challenge hosted by retired soccer star Mia Hamm and her husband, Dodgers third baseman Nomar Garciaparra.
Lieberthal, who played his first 13 seasons with the Philadelphia Philllies, batted .274 in his career with 150 home runs. He won a Gold Glove in 1999, the first of his back-to-back All-Star seasons.
A Southern California native who lives in Westlake Village, Lieberthal said he was leaning toward retirement at the end of last season. He said he probably would have played another year if the Dodgers had picked up his $1.4-million option for 2008, but the option was declined.
“I didn’t want to go anywhere else,” Lieberthal said. “Being in a backup role, you don’t get the same satisfaction. The money’s great still, but I’m not at a point where I need money for my family.”
Lieberthal played in only 38 games for the Dodgers last season, hitting .234 in 77 at-bats.
“I’m in a happy place right now,” said Lieberthal, noting that his wife is three months pregnant with the couple’s first child.
-- Dylan Hernandez