ESPN News Services
Sep 22, 2023, 11:37 AM ET
Sean Doolittle, a two-time All-Star reliever who helped the Washington Nationals to a World Series title, has announced his retirement.
Doolittle revealed his decision in a social media post Friday, writing that he had a “full heart” as he said farewell “after 11 incredible seasons playing the sport I love.”
He said he felt very welcome in Washington, where he first pitched from 2017 to 2020, earned his second All-Star honor in 2018 and recorded a save in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series as the franchise won its first and only championship.
“The 2019 World Series title will always be the highlight of my career because we were able to share it with you,” Doolittle wrote, addressing Nationals fans. “I don’t have the words to tell you how grateful I am for your support during my time here in DC.”
He is set to hold a news conference Friday before the Nationals host the Atlanta Braves.
Doolittle also thanked the Oakland Athletics, for whom he pitched in the first six seasons of his major league career. He recognized his 2021 season with the Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners, joking that it helps his availability as an option in the online game Immaculate Grid while adding that “my experience in baseball feels more complete” after playing for those teams.
His managers, teammates, clubhouse staff and family were among those Doolittle praised in his post.
After returning to the Nationals on a one-year contract, Doolittle last pitched in the majors in April 2022. He underwent elbow surgery that July, ending his season, and had signed a minor league deal with Washington this year. He made 11 appearances across four levels of the minors in 2023.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said the team knew it was getting a tremendous reliever and person with the trade for Doolittle in 2017, adding that proved to be correct.
“A World Champion, All-Star, and leader in the clubhouse, Sean set an example of what it means to be a pillar of the community,” Rizzo said in a statement. “He was as fierce as they come on the mound and took the ball whenever he was called upon.”
Doolittle, 36, retires with a 26-24 record, a 3.20 ERA and 112 career saves over 463 relief appearances. He was drafted as a first baseman by the Athletics in 2012 then given an opportunity to try pitching after injuries made him contemplate retirement at the time.
“I am forever grateful to them for helping me turn a second chance into a career,” Doolittle said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.