KANSAS CITY, MO. – Jason Bartlett’s comeback after a year and a half away from the game has ended abruptly; he informed the team on Thursday that he intends to retire.
Bartlett was supposed to be in Class A Fort Myers’ lineup on Thursday but, about an hour before game time, had his agent, Ryan Ware, call Twins assistant GM Rob Antony and inform him of his decision. The call came between games of the Twins’ doubleheader sweep of the Blue Jays. Bartlett was to have played his first game with the Miracle as part of a rehabilitation assignment, while he was recovering from a left ankle sprain.
Antony said he was caught off guard by the decision but was told Bartlett is not where he wants to be.
“He sounded like a guy who had been thinking about this and was comfortable that this is what he wants to do,’’ Antony said. “I told him to take a couple of days and think about it.’’
But Bartlett has informed other members of the club of his decision and the Twins have begun working with the league office on processing the necessary paperwork.
Bartlett, 34, was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in four plate appearances with the Twins. He also scored three runs. He landed on the disabled list on April 7 and the club wanted him to take advantage of the time by going to the minors, getting several at-bats and trying to rediscover his swing.
Bartlett has played in 892 games over a 10-year career, 324 with the Twins. He’s a career .270 hitter with 31 home runs and 123 stolen bases.
He took a year and a half off following knee surgery in 2012 before feeling healthy and getting the itch to play again. He signed a minor league deal with the Twins that would pay him $1 million if he made the team and stayed in the majors the entire season. Despite going 4-for-43 during spring training, Bartlett was on the Opening Day roster as a utility player because of the other things he could bring to a club. Manager Ron Gardenhire said he felt it was a good role for Bartlett.
“He doesn’t have that little drive he needs to get back in it,” Gardenhire said. “He told me he appreciated everything. He was good for us in spring training. We’re going to miss him. But he’s one of the greatest kids you’ll meet in your life.’’
To make room on the 40-man roster for Bartlett and other players, the Twins placed Alex Presley, Chris Parmelee and Scott Diamond on waivers. Presley was claimed by Houston.
The Twins will gain an extra spot on their 40-man roster once paperwork is completed, which is expected to be in a few days.
Outfielder Josh Willingham lifted weights and outfielder Oswaldo Arcia swung a mini-bat in a pool. Both are working their way back from wrist injuries, but they remain days away from taking batting practice. And they likely will do a minor league rehab assignment before getting cleared to return to the lineup.
Gardenhire said he liked what he saw of Eduardo Nunez, who was called up from Class AAA Rochester as the 26th man for Thursday’s doubleheader.
Nunez returned to Rochester after the game, but Gardenhire indicated that the club remains interested in calling Nunez up for a longer stint once he gets more at-bats under his belt. “He has a live body,’’ Gardenhire said.
• The Royals held a moment of silence before Friday’s game to remember victims of the shootings at a Jewish community center Sunday in a Kansas City suburb.