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Kendall retires after ending comeback attempt

Kendall retires after ending comeback attempt

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Kendall retires after ending comeback attempt
ANAHEIM -- Jason Kendall has decided to pack up his mitt and catcher's gear.

The 38-year-old announced his retirement as a player on Tuesday in Springdale, Ark., where he'd been scheduled to continue his comeback attempt in Northwest Arkansas' return to Arvest Ballpark for a homestand.

"I had a good run. I went out on my own terms and did what I had to do," Kendall said from Springdale. "I have no regrets."

He had played just two games for the Double-A Naturals since signing a Minor League contract with Kansas City in an attempt to determine if his surgically repaired right shoulder would allow him to resume his catching career.

In two games, both at Springfield, he batted three times with one hit. In Sunday's game, he felt a twinge in his arm when he threw down to second base in the second inning. Then, on a delayed steal in the third inning, he made a throwing error.

"I threw down to second base and I felt it and said not one more," Kendall said. "There were a lot of things that go into it, but at the end of my career, I'd like to have a shoulder and be able to play catch with my kids."

After being the Royals' regular catcher in 2010, Kendall missed the last month of the season because of extensive shoulder surgery in early September. Additional surgery was required in July 2011, and he missed that entire season. Living in the Kansas City area, he remained with the Royals while rehabbing and has been serving the team in an advisory and part-time coaching capacity.

Last week, the Royals agreed to let him attempt a comeback.

"If I didn't do what I did now, 10 years from now I'd be upset and say, 'Why didn't I do it?'" he said. "But I tried. My arm just wouldn't hold up. I'd had 10 surgeries in my career, and I didn't want to have another one."

Many fans remember the gruesome ankle injury that Kendall suffered on July 4, 1999, in Pittsburgh. He was trying to beat out a bunt against the Brewers when his foot hit the first-base bag at a bad angle, causing a fracture and dislocation so severe that the fibula stuck out out of his skin. He determinedly returned to play for another 11 years.

"I had a lot of fun, but I'm also known as the guy who snapped his ankle and did a lot of fighting," he said. "That's what it boils down to -- I kept people on their toes a lot of the time. After 15 years, people still don't know what to think about me, and I love it."

Kendall played 15 Major League seasons and three times was a National League All-Star with the Pirates. He also played for the Athletics, Cubs and Brewers before signing as a free agent with the Royals for the 2010 season.

He ranks fifth all-time in number of games caught at 2,025, and in 2006, he became the first player in Major League history to catch at least 140 games eight times. He had a career .288 batting average, with 75 home runs and 744 RBIs in 2,085 total games.

Kendall amassed 2,195 career hits, getting his 2,000th off the Cardinals' Kyle Lohse on May 18, 2009. He also was hit by pitches 254 times, third most by a player since 1900.

Earlier in his career with the Pirates, he often batted in the leadoff spot, unusual for a catcher, and in 1998-2000, he recorded 26, 22 and 22 steals to become the first catcher to have 20 or more steals in three straight seasons.

On Tuesday, he was asked about the highlight of his career.

"I got to put a big league uniform on every day for 15 days," Kendall said. "Every day was a highlight. I had fun."

Kendall wants to remain in baseball and will discuss his future with Royals general manager Dayton Moore, who was in Springdale on Tuesday.

"I want to say in the game," Kendall said. "I going to sit down and talk to Dayton and see what's going on. As soon as I had my second surgery last year, teams called and asked about coaching stuff and this and that. I live in Kansas and want to stay in Kansas. ... This team's going to win, and I'd like to be part of it in some capacity."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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