Edinson Volquez has won a World Series and has been an All-Star. He has all the money is ever going to need and has enough service time to qualify for the full MLB pension.
But the Texas Rangers right-hander wants one more thing: to prove to himself that he can come back from an early-season elbow injury to pitch again in the major leagues.
After that, that’s it.
“Done,” Volquez said. “Out. He gone.”
Volquez said Saturday that he will retire after this season, his 14th in a career that began in 2005 with the Rangers. He said he doesn’t want to go through another offseason and another round of free agency and the possibility that he will need a third Tommy John surgery.
He threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session Saturday at Oakland Coliseum and could start throwing live batting practice next week. He is trying to return from an April injury that he thought would end his career.
“I don’t want to go out this, like I’m quitting,” Volquez said. “I want to try. As a player if you have a chance to do it, whether it’s a couple months or a couple weeks, why not?
“I want to prove to myself I can do it this year.”
Volquez, 36, said that he has no remorse about his decision, which he started coming to terms with while rehabbing last year from an August 2017 elbow ligament replacement six weeks after he threw a no-hitter for the Miami Marlins.
He joined the Rangers during spring training in 2018 on a two-year minor-league deal, and the Rangers added him to the 40-man roster in November to be in their 2019 rotation.
He is making $5 million this season.
“You think a lot about how it’s going to be, if you want to pitch,” Volquez said. “I was ready for whatever happens. I feel like I’ve had enough.”
He was injured this season in his second start, on April 4, and was prepared to retire at that point. He said he was buoyed by the Rangers’ request for him to stick around, so he could help guide younger players.
Reliever Jose Leclerc said Volquez is the one who pointed out a mechanical flaw that has helped him drop his ERA from 8.44 to 4.02.
“It makes me feel good to be around the guys,” Volquez said.
A six-week exam of the elbow showed dramatic improvement, and Volquez started a throwing program that has progressed to the point where he could be an option for the Rangers by late August or September.
His teammates are pulling for him. Every pitcher except for Adrian Sampson, who was readying for his start Saturday, watched Volquez throw his bullpen session.
Manager Chris Woodward said Friday that Volquez still has work to do before he can be reinstated from the 60-day injured list, but he will be welcomed back if he shows he is healthy.
Volquez insists he is feeling good and throwing hard, but not enough to rethink his decision.
“If someone comes up with $10 million, I might change my mind,” Volquez said, laughing.
His most significant impact with the Rangers came in December 2007, when he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Josh Hamilton. Both were All-Stars in 2008, and Volquez finished fourth in voting for the National League Rookie of the Year.
His best seasons came in 2014 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and in 2015 with the Kansas City Royals, who he helped win the World Series.
Volquez tossed six scoreless innings in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, who had rallied past the Rangers in the division series.
He didn’t record a victory in the World Series, but the Royals won both of his starts. He tossed six innings in each outing, including in the Game 5 clincher against the New York Mets.