Maicer Izturis retires, leaving only one former Expo in MLB

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons reacts to the news that veteran Maicer Izturis has called it quits due to health concerns, says he was a winner that knew how to play the game right.

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Bartolo Colon is the last former Montreal Expos player remaining in the big-leagues after infielder Maicer Izturis announced his retirement at Toronto Blue Jays camp on Friday.

Izturis made his debut in the majors with the Expos in 2004, and after the team moved to Washington, he was traded with Juan Rivera to the Angels for Jose Guillen. He spent eight years in Anaheim before signing a $10-million, three-year deal with the Blue Jays that expired last fall, and arrived at spring training on a minor-league deal trying to revive his career after two injury-scarred seasons.

"I put my heart and my soul and my body into it this year to see how I was going to feel, but my body can’t handle it anymore so I’ve decided this is my last time playing baseball," Izturis said in comments interpreted by third-base coach Luis Rivera. "I played for 18 years and there’s nothing in particular that led to this decision. I’m 35-years old, I’ve been playing for so long and my mind and my soul wanted to do it, but my body doesn’t allow it."

Colon, who re-signed with the New York Mets for $7.25 million over one year in December, made 17 starts for the Expos in 2002 after being acquired from the Cleveland Indians for Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips, all prospects at the time.

Ian Desmond, who recently signed a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers, was a third-round pick of the Expos in 2004, the team’s final season in Montreal.

Izturis posted a .597 OPS in 107 games during the 2013 season for the Blue Jays, and was off to a better start in 2014 when he tore knee ligaments falling down dugout steps during an April game in Baltimore.

He didn’t play for the Blue Jays again, opening last year on the disabled list with a groin strain before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery in June. The Blue Jays bought out his $3 million option for 2016 in the winter.

"He was injured a lot of his time here, but he was a winning player," said manager John Gibbons. "He played the game the right way, was on a lot of those successful teams in Anaheim and he did things right. That’s what always stood out about him. What really hurt him was falling down those stairs in Baltimore but he ought to hold his head high, he’s had a tremendous career."

Izturis plans to spend some time with his family and wants to remain in baseball. He and his brother Cesar, another former Blue Jays player, run an academy in their native Venzuela.

"I tried really hard," he said of his comeback. "Even (Friday) morning I went to the cage and hit and I was trying really hard. I want to thank the organization for giving me the opportunity to play the last three years. I really tried hard but couldn’t do it anymore."