Jeremy Affeldt has often been the first one to come out to the dugout before games this season, both at home and on the road. He’ll walk out into the dugout, put his knee brace — one of two he needs to wear — in a safe spot, and then sit and sip coffee as teammates stream out onto the field.
It turns out Affleldt has been saying goodbye.
The 36-year-old left-hander announced his retirement Thursday morning. Affeldt is finishing up his 14th and final season and his seventh with the Giants. He served as a fill-in closer at times and now mostly pitches early relief innings, and in between Affeldt has handled — and handled well — just about every job imaginable in a bullpen. He has a 3.07 ERA in 412 appearances for the Giants.
Affeldt’s greatest accomplishments have come in the postseason. From Game 3 of the 2010 World Series through Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, he did not allow a run. The span of 22 scoreless postseason games totals 23 1/3 innings, includes just 11 hits, and finished with Affeldt being named the winning pitcher in Game 7 of last year’s World Series. He threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings that night before Madison Bumgarner took the Giants to the end, extending a streak surpassed only by Mariano Rivera.
This season has been another injury-marred one for Affeldt and he never got on track. He has a 6.09 ERA and injured his good knee in a lake accident, but that day shows a big reason why Affeldt is retiring. The Washington state native had flown home on an off day to spend a few hours with his three young sons and wife. Affeldt also does as much charity work off the field as any player in the Majors, and that surely will be a focus going forward. The Giants said he would discuss all this during a press conference later Thursday morning.
Affeldt’s contributions go beyond the field of play. He is a regular on ESPN’s season-ending list of strangest injuries and has had so many that the phrase “hamburger stabbing” is not out of place in stories about the left-hander. Teammates have good-naturedly made him a punching bag for years and Affeldt dishes it out just as hard.
It’s become a running gag for teammates to take shots at Affeldt when they take the stage at FanFest. This year, Affeldt was asked which teammate he wouldn’t want to share a room with on the road. He paused for a few seconds.
“Probably myself,” he said, smiling.