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Former Angels infielder David Eckstein has not retired; he just chose not to play

June 29, 2011 |  3:35 pm

Eck3 David Eckstein is not playing baseball this season, but the scrappy 36-year-old infielder who helped the Angels win the 2002 World Series and won World Series MVP honors with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 has not officially retired.

Nor has the game retired him, like it has so many veterans who simply fade away.

Eckstein, who played the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the San Diego Padres, got an offer to sign with a club four weeks ago and turned it down.

He said he received more offers—some of them major league deals—this past winter than he ever has a free agent but has spent the past few months managing the career of his wife, actress Ashley Drane, and not diving around infields and driving up pitch counts.

“I made a decision not to play,” said Eckstein, who was in Angel Stadium on Wednesday to visit his brother, Washington batting coach Rick Eckstein.

Are there any physical reasons? “No,” Eckstein said.

Asked if he hoped to play again, Eckstein, who also visited Manager Mike Scioscia and several players and coaches in the Angels clubhouse, shrugged his shoulders.

“It totally has to be the right situation, but when you say that, it’s like you’re disrespecting the clubs that have talked to you,” Eckstein said. “This goes so much deeper than you guys will ever know. Talk to Rick if you really want to know the story.”

Rick Eckstein, 38, shed a little more light on the situation, but not that much.

Much of David’s value goes far beyond statistics—his grit and desire, his knowledge of and instincts for the game, his clubhouse leadership, his willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of the team by advancing runners with ground-ball outs.

It appeared several teams focused on Eckstein’s statistics, which are not overwhelming—he had a career .280 average, .345 on-base percentage and 1,414 hits in 10 big league seasons—and not his overall value.

“I think in this game you get to a point where you know what you can do, and you want to be in a situation where people believe in you,” Rick Eckstein said.

“David has been a great attribute to baseball for 10 years. He brings a certain element to every team he’s been a part of, and at some point, what he brings, people don’t see it as a value. So, he’s decided [he won’t play].”

Does Rick Eckstein, who seven months ago donated a kidney to another Eckstein brother, Kenny, think David will play again?

“If the right situation presents itself, absolutely,” he said. “David knows who he is. It’s that simple.”

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-- Mike DiGiovanna

Photo: David Eckstein with the San Diego Padres in 2010. Credit: Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire

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