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Radke will announce retirement Tuesday

  • Article by: Joe Christensen
  • Star Tribune
  • December 19, 2006 - 3:33 PM

The Twins knew Brad Radke was close to announcing his retirement. They just weren't sure when.

Radke plans to make it official at 4 p.m. today with a press conference at the Metrodome, ending a 12-year major league career spent entirely with the Twins.

"It'll be a sad day because he's not going to be pitching for us anymore," manager Ron Gardenhire said Sunday. "And it's also going to be a great day because he's done so much for our organization. He started with us, and he never left us. That's something our organization is very, very proud of."

Radke, 34, privately has planned to retire since spring training. The pain in his right shoulder was simply too much. To pitch again, doctors said, Radke would require surgery to repair his torn labrum, and the recovery would likely keep him out for much of 2007.

Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson occasionally spoke to Radke about delaying his retirement.

"I gave him one last pitch a couple days after the season," Anderson said. "My last thing was, 'Hey, Rad, don't announce anything. Why don't you see how you feel? And come January or February, if you get the urge to do it again, maybe come on down [to spring training] and see what you've got.'

"He said, 'You know, I've made up my mind.' "

Without Radke and the injured Francisco Liriano, the Twins have two big holes to fill in next year's rotation.

The top six returning starters are Johan Santana, Carlos Silva, Boof Bonser, Matt Garza, Scott Baker and Glen Perkins.

"We've got arms, and when you have arms, you have a chance," Gardenhire said. "Not having a Radke -- that's something we haven't had to deal with in a long, long time, knowing he's going to take the ball and eat up 200 innings. So that's going to be the issue."

Radke and his agent, Ron Simon, could not be reached for this story. But Tuesday figures to be an emotional day for the righthander, who fought back tears after pitching in the 8-3 playoff loss at Oakland that ended the Twins' 2006 season.

Radke signed as an eighth-round draft choice out of Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit High School in 1991 and reached the big leagues in 1995. He became the first Twins pitcher since Jim Kaat to have 10 seasons with at least 10 victories, finishing with a career record of 148-139.

With a 4.22 career ERA, Radke undoubtedly would have won more had he pitched for better teams earlier in his career. In 1997, he went 20-10 for a Twins team that went 68-94, and he remained a workhorse, surpassing the 200-inning mark nine times.

Anderson said he often invited minor league pitchers to watch Radke in spring training, just to study his work habits.

Radke could have left the Twins as a free agent after the 2004 season. The Red Sox offered more money, but he stayed in Minnesota with a two-year, $18 million deal.

His right shoulder pain, which bothered him in 2005, became unbearable this August. Later, Radke learned that he had been pitching with a stress fracture in the shoulder socket.

"It's amazing what he went through to compete; it's just unbelievable," Anderson said. "I'm not just going to miss one of our best pitchers over the last 12 years. I'm going to miss a great friend."

Joe Christensen • jchristensen@startribune.com

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