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February 27, 2011 at 8:51 AM

Jody Gerut goes out with dignity intact

Some news here this morning as non-roster outfield hopeful Jody Gerut announced his retirement from baseball at age 33. But it was the way Gerut did it and the reasons given that should earn him applause around the game.
“I can no longer, in good conscience, play the game in a manner that reflects the positive example for the younger generation of baseball players,” he said. “Physcially, I’m fine. But mentally, my reasons for wanting to be in uniform have become so thin and narrow that I refuse to disrespect the game that has provided so generously for my family in a halfhearted way.
“This game of ours owes me nothing, but I owe the game at least that much. When a player finds his willingness to compete to be so greatly diminished, that player must leave the game so as not to disrespect it by becoming a player who plays solely for his paycheck and his own personal glory.
“This is a notion so distasteful to me it makes me physically sick to my stomach.”
Photo Credit: AP

Talk about honesty. In this day of guaranteed money, Gerut could have hung on, made the team and collected something in the high six figures. With Franklin Gutierrez’s uncertain health status, the Mariners needed a guy who can play left field and center in a pinch and Gerut fits the bill.
But when your heart’s not in it, it’s tough to fake it. Gerut could have waited until the end of spring and walked away, leaving the Mariners in a lurch. Could have pulled an Eric Byrnes and ridden away on a bike a month into the season.
Not this time. He was honest with himself. Accountable to the game. And he deserves our applause.
You know, even though he mentions being fine physically, you have to wonder how much all of his knee struggles took it out of him mentally. You only have so much mental energy in you and the constant, lonely struggle of rehabilitating an injured knee year after year does eat a lot of it up.
It’s a mental grind and you need to have that end goal in mind — making the comeback to the playing field — to keep you going. But sometimes, at some point, that end goal no longer keeps the adrenaline up there like it used to. It no longer seems worth the sacrifice.
In the end — major league stars or not — most of these players just want the same things we all do. They are all going to die someday. And at some point, once you realize you aren’t going to live forever, the things that matter in life — loved ones, happiness and looking forward to waking up each day — begin to take hold.
Gerut’s moving on and whether he would or would not have made the Mariners is hardly going to matter to him in a few years. He’s earned his major league badge that he can flash around whenever he wants. And now he’s getting on with his life.
Best of luck to a guy we barely knew.



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