I missed this one last week -
Eric Duncan announced his retirement from professional baseball on Tuesday.
An infielder with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, Duncan has been in the minors since graduating from Seton Hall Prep in 2003.
“I love the game too much to keep playing if I’m not fully committed to it and fully invested in it,’’ he said via cell phone from Springdale, Ark. “I’m not going to play the game just to play it, or just for a paycheck. That’s not why I’ve ever played the game. … For the past 10 years, this is all I’ve known. All I ever wanted to do was play baseball. Now I’m moving on.’’
Duncan hit .267 with four home runs and 24 RBI for the Naturals, Kansas City’s Class-AA affiliate. He had torn a quadriceps muscle during spring training and spent six weeks recuperating, joining the team on May 5.
Duncan said the injury had nothing to do with his decision, but Naturals manager Brian Poldberg could see its impact on Duncan’s fielding and overall movement. Poldberg had recommended signing Duncan as a free agent, after watching him play against Northwest Arkansas last season.
Duncan hit a career-high 22 home runs for Springfield last year, and hit for the cycle against the Naturals on Aug. 28. Duncan was named one of MILB.com’s Organization All-Stars.
“After all these years coaching, there’s people you remember, guys you hope your son’s going to be like, and he’s one of those guys,’’ Poldberg said. “I’m going to miss him. … I’m sad to say it didn’t work out, because he’s a guy you root for.’’
A former first-round draft pick (27th overall) of the New York Yankees, Duncan had been named the organization’s top prospect by Baseball America following the 2004 season. He spent three seasons with the Yankees’ Class-AAA affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, helping to win the International League title in ’08. Former teammate Shelley Duncan, now playing in the majors with Cleveland, was one of the first people Duncan called after making his decision.
Duncan hit .249 in his career, which spanned 1,006 minor-league games. He planned to drive back to Florham Park in a few days, but has no long-term plans.
“This is the first time I’ll ever have a summer not playing baseball in as long as I can remember,’’ Duncan said. “I’ll get away from the game for a while, start sorting things out, and seeing where I want to go. I can’t imagine not being around baseball, because I love the game so much, and it’s been a part of me for so long.’’
He’s just 27-years old. And, he has his whole life in front of him now. Since he loves baseball, I suspect he will end up coaching, in some capacity…