Colby Rasmus tells Orioles he'd like to 'go home and discontinue playing,' is placed on restricted list

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Orioles outfielder Colby Rasmus told manager Buck Showalter on Tuesday of his intention to leave the team, and the Orioles placed him on the restricted list — the second straight season Rasmus has left his team midseason.

“Colby talked to me this afternoon, and said he made a decision to go home and discontinue playing, and we’re going to honor that and give him the privacy that he’s due,” Showalter said. “I hope everything is for the best. We wish him well, and we’ll see what the future brings. But I’m not going to get into a lot of details in our conversation.”

Rasmus returned from the disabled list June 21 after missing over two months with a hip injury that required multiple cortisone shots to get him back to playing condition.

It was the same hip injury that caused Rasmus to go on the DL last June with the Tampa Bay Rays. He left the Rays last July 13.

Rasmus, who signed a minor league contract with the Orioles in February worth $3 million, said he walked away last year because the game “was driving me crazy,” but the time away refreshed him.

Because of that, Showalter said Rasmus’ decision hardly blindsided him.

“No, I wouldn’t say that,” Showalter said. “Not when similar things have happened a little bit in the past. That shouldn’t blindside. With things like this, there’s a lot of different reasons. But we respect his privacy, and honor the tough decision he had to make today. It’s usually something that doesn’t happen overnight.”

Executive vice president Dan Duquette said in a text message to The Baltimore Sun that the Orioles “support Colby’s decision to step away from baseball.

“We appreciate his contributions to our team, and we wish him and his family the best. The Orioles will have no further comment.”

Showalter said Rasmus didn't address the team as a group Tuesday, and the decision came too late for the Orioles to get an extra outfielder to Philadelphia, meaning they’ll be playing short. Outfielder Joey Rickard is on his way to Philadelphia to fill that spot.

The restricted list is a roster designation for players who are not available because of the player’s own doing, whether it’s players who retire without filing the official paperwork or otherwise decline to play for their club.

Rasmus, a 2005 first-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals, made his major league debut in 2009. The Orioles are his fifth MLB team in 10 seasons.

He had played well before leaving the Rays under similar circumstances last season, batting .281 with an .896 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and nine home runs in 37 games before his chronic hip injury landed him on the DL on June 23.

Three weeks later, he stepped away from the team and was placed on the restricted list.

Once he was a free agent this year, the Orioles identified him as a fit for their left-handed-hitting outfield need. His reputation as a good defender helped his cause.

Rasmus was on his own schedule in spring training, playing as if he was a veteran who made the team despite being a non-roster invitee on a minor league deal. But the Orioles were convinced then of his commitment to the game and reclaiming his health and form, and he began the season as their regular right fielder.

He struggled to make an impression, though. Rasmus struck out 13 times in 23 plate appearances before going on the DL a week into the season in New York, and though he homered in his first game back on June 21 against the Washington Nationals, he was batting .133/.204/.222 when he called head athletic trainer Brian Ebel on Sunday and told him he was sick, missing what would have been a chance to start for the Orioles against the Los Angeles Angels.

Rasmus traveled to Philadelphia with the team Monday night, but told Showalter his decision upon arriving at the ballpark.

“I’m not going to get into what we talked about,” Showalter said. “There’s a privacy thing, and we want to honor that. Colby [knows] there’s a lot more to life than baseball. That’s his decision. We all have to make some decisions.”

Asked whether this ended his time with the Orioles, Showalter again said “that’s kind of private.”

Rasmus made approximately $1.5 million from the Orioles, though he won’t be paid while on the restricted list.

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