Loretta hangs up his cleats

GLENDALE — After 15 years of patrolling the infield and earning a pair of All-Star game selections, St. Francis High graduate Mark Loretta retired as a player Monday to become a special assistant to the baseball operations staff with the San Diego Padres.

Loretta, 38, was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the seventh round in 1993 before playing for the Brewers, Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 1989 St. Francis graduate was a career .295 hitter and appeared in the All-Star game in 2004 and 2006.

He helped the Dodgers win the National League West Division championship last season and enjoyed his finest moment when he delivered a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Dodgers a 3-2 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals in the second game of the division series. The Dodgers would go on to sweep St. Louis before falling to the Philadelphia Phillies in the championship series.

The Northwestern University graduate said ending his career on a high note made things a bit easier when considering retirement.

“It was a culmination of several things ... a lot of things came together to make me feel as if it was time,” Loretta told mlb.com. “I knew [San Diego General Manager] Jed [Hoyer] in Boston and being able to come back to the Padres was a draw.

“Also, I wanted to end my career on a positive note. Last year with the Dodgers was a great year from a team standpoint, I got a big hit and I got to play for Joe Torre.”

Loretta hit .280 or better for 12 consecutive seasons (1997-2008). He batted .300 or higher between 2002-04.

He played for the Padres from 2002-05, helping San Diego win the National League West Division in 2005.

In 2004, Loretta recorded career-highs in hits (208), doubles (47), home runs (16), RBIs (76), runs scored (108), batting average (.335), slugging percentage (.495) and on-base percentage (.391).

Loretta, who played all four infield positions, spent the 2006 season with Boston. He mostly played second base.

Hoyer recalled Loretta’s work ethic from their days in Boston.

“We are incredibly excited to add Mark to our staff,” Hoyer told mlb.com. “He had a long and successful playing career and earned the respect of every team he joined along the way.

“I was with Mark for one season in Boston and it was clear to me that he could have a great impact on an organization in a front-office role once he finished his playing career.”

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