Jim Abbott, who amazed and inspired baseball fans by reaching the major leagues despite having only one hand, has been released by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Jon Greenberg, the Brewers' director of media relations, said he did not know whether that meant the 31-year-old Abbott would be retiring from baseball. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said in Friday's editions there is a strong chance Abbott has thrown his last pitch in the majors.
"That's up to him," Greenberg said.
Amid speculation about the move, Abbott left Milwaukee County Stadium without commenting to reporters Thursday after the team beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-0 and prepared for a road trip.
"It's sad to see him go," infielder Mark Loretta said. "There are a lot of guys that you play with that you say you will keep in touch with, but you never do. He is one of those guys that you will stay in touch with. I know I will. It was great playing with him."
Greenberg said right-handed reliever Reggie Harris (2-2) would join the Brewers from their Class AAA Louisville farm club to replace Abbott on the roster.
Abbott (2-8) gave up three runs in the ninth inning of a 7-0 loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday, the most recent poor outing of a disappointing season.
"He gave it his best shot," Loretta said.
Abbott, born without a right hand, won a gold medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.
"That was a thrill of a lifetime," Abbott recalled Sunday, the day David Cone threw a perfect game for the Yankees.
Abbott opened the 1995 season with the Chicago White Sox and later was traded back to the Angels. He posted a 2-18 record during the 1996 season.
The Angels released him after a series of shaky starts in spring training in 1997. Abbott spent the summer at his Michigan home.
In 1998, he signed a minor league deal with the White Sox and worked his way through the farm system until reaching the majors, where he was 5-0 in the final month of that season.
Abbott signed with the Brewers as a free agent Jan. 27, 1999. He had an impressive spring training and began the season as the No. 4 starter in the Brewers' rotation.
He also got his first major leaguhit on June 15 against the Chicago Cubs. He spent most of his career in the American League, where pitchers don't normally bat.
After giving up 18 runs in his first three starts, Abbott spent the rest of the season bouncing between starting and relieving.
It was after he allowed five runs in 3 2-3 innings in front of friends and family on July 8 at Tiger Stadium, that Abbott said he would contemplate his future after the All-Star break.
When he came back after the break, he was assigned to the bullpen.
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