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Longtime Angel Jered Weaver announces retirement from baseball

Longtime Angel Jered Weaver announces retirement from baseball
Jered Weaver was 150-93 in his Angels career and finished in the top five of Cy Young voting three times. (Reed Saxon / AP)

Jered Weaver, who won more games than all but one pitcher in Angels history and left some $60 million on the table to play for them, announced his retirement Wednesday.

Weaver, 34, a three-time All-Star for the Angels and the franchise's most recent 20-game winner, called it a career after failing to win in any of his nine starts for the San Diego Padres.

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"I've decided to step away from baseball," Weaver said in a statement released by the Padres. "While I've been working hard to get back on the mound, my body just will not allow me to compete like I want to."

Even as his fastball velocity slowed to the low 80s, Weaver competed fiercely last season, leading the Angels in innings pitched and making all of his starts until the final weekend. But after he posted a 5.06 earned-run average and gave up 37 home runs, the Angels let him go, and he signed with a Padres team in need of veteran starters to soak up innings.

He went 0-5 with a 7.44 ERA, and he had been on the disabled list since May because of what the Padres said was a troublesome left hip.

Weaver should be remembered far less for the disappearing fastball that ended his career and more for the dominance he displayed with the Angels.

The Padres considered taking him with the first overall pick in the 2004 draft, but ownership deemed him too expensive and instead selected Matt Bush, a San Diego high school infielder who eventually served time in prison after driving drunk and did not surface in the major leagues until last year, as a pitcher for the Texas Rangers.

The Angels happily pounced on Weaver, who had starred at Long Beach State. He signed in 2005, made his major league debut one year later and finished his 11-year Angels career with a 150-93 record and 3.55 ERA.

Only Chuck Finley, with 165 victories, won more games for the Angels.

From 2010 to 2012, Weaver was one of the most dominant pitchers in the American League, ranking among the top five in Cy Young voting and making the All-Star team each year.

In 2010, he led the league in strikeouts. In 2012, he won 20 games and pitched a no-hitter. In seven postseason games, he posted a 2.60 ERA.

In 2011, more than one year ahead of his potential free agency, he endeared himself to Angels fans and went against the advice of his agent, Scott Boras, in signing an $85-million contract extension to stay in Anaheim.

The next year, Cole Hamels — who at the time had very similar statistics to Weaver — signed a $144-million contract extension with the Philadelphia Phillies.

But Weaver, who grew up in Simi Valley, never had to leave Southern California to play baseball in college or the major leagues, and he had no intention of parading himself to suitors around the league.

"How much more do you need?" he said when he signed the $85-million deal. "Could have got more, whatever. Who cares?"

Weaver was respected among his teammates and loyal to his fellow pitchers, particularly Nick Adenhart, a rookie Weaver befriended in 2009. Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver after throwing six shutout innings in his fourth major league start.

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Four years later, when Weaver became a father for the first time, he vowed anew that the memory of his late friend should live on. Weaver named his son Aden.

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin

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