Hammel announced Saturday that he will retire from professional baseball, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Hammel's decision is a surprising one after the Rangers informed a day earlier that he would break camp with the big club as a long reliever. Rather than as a result of any dissatisfaction with his projected role, Hammel opted for retirement after determining that spending more time with his family was a greater priority at this point, according to general manager Jon Daniels. The 13-year veteran wraps up his career with a 96-114 record and 4.62 ERA across 377 big-league appearances (298 starts).
Hammel was told Friday he'd made the Rangers' Opening Day roster, Levi Weaver of The Athletic reports. The Rangers have yet to officially add Hammel to the 40-man roster, but that transaction should be coming some time in the next few days. Hammel is expected to open the season in the bullpen, but he has 298 starts under his belt so far in his big-league career, and he could be one of the first pitchers called upon should injuries or ineffectiveness strike the Rangers' rotation. The 36-year-old posted ERAs of 5.29 and 6.02 in the last two seasons while calling Kauffman Stadium home, so expectations should be low for him this year at hitter-friendly Globe Life Park.
Hammel said he will not go to the minors if he doesn't make the Rangers' roster, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. "I certainly won't go to Triple-A," Hammel said after firing four scoreless innings Friday. "This is a grind. If it requires me to go home, I know my family is waiting for me and has been for a while. I'm more than willing to go home and spend time with them." Hammel's allowed just one run on four hits and two walks while striking out 10 over 8.2 Cactus League innings. The Rangers already have a projected rotation, so Hammel could stick around as a long reliever/spot starter, and he could be the first option should one of the three starters coming back from Tommy John surgery falter.
Hammel made his debut for the Rangers, throwing two scoreless innings in Tuesday's game against Oakland. Hammel signed late in the offseason and is behind others at this stage, though manager Chris Woodward told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com that he has time to compete for a job. Hammel has made 298 career starts and is being stretched out in camp, but Woodward said he's competing for a spot in the Rangers' bullpen.
Hammel signed a minor-league deal that includes an invitation to spring training with the Rangers on Friday. Hammel spent the last two seasons in Kansas City but the Royals declined his option in October, making him a free agent. The 36-year-old struggled with a 5.59 ERA and 1.51 WHIP for the Royals, allowing 44 home runs over 307.1 innings. The veteran right-hander will undoubtedly be looking for a bounce-back season if he can manage to crack the Opening Day roster.
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