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Brett Cecil retires from baseball

Brett Cecil celebrates after game five of the 2015 ALDS.
Brett Cecil celebrates after game five of the 2015 ALDS.
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The bespectacled former Blue Jays reliever Brett Cecil has announced his retirement from baseball via an Instagram post.

After leaving the Blue Jays in 2016, Cecil had signed a big four-year, $30.5-million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals and had a solid 2017 season. His numbers fell off a cliff for St. Louis in an injury-filled 2018 and then he spent all of 2019 recovering from carpel tunnel surgery. He pitched for the Cardinals in the abbreviated spring training in 2020 before being shut down with a hamstring strain and getting released just prior to the season began in late July.

Looking back, Cecil was the Blue Jays’ third of five (#38 overall) first-round draft picks in 2007 after Kevin Ahrens and J.P. Arencibia and before Justin Jackson and Trystan Magnuson (did Toronto just arrange their picks in alphabetical order?). The former University of Maryland Terrapin was a compensation pick for Justin Speier.

Cecil started his professional career in short-season Auburn but made it all the way up to triple-A Syracuse in 2007. He made his major league debut as a starter against Cleveland on May 5, 2009, notching a no-decision in an eventual Blue Jays win. After lacerating his finger cutting up some chicken in spring training, Cecil led the Jays’ starting rotation in wins in 2010. However, he took a step back in 2011 and was exiled to triple-A Las Vegas for a couple of months before the Jays were forced to recall him to fill holes in the starting rotation. Later that season he had to skip a start after he cut his finger again while cleaning a blender.

In 2012 he started all the way down in double-A New Hampshire and worked himself back up to the big leagues in June when Tom Dakers attended a series in Toronto and caused starters Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, and Drew Hutchison to go on the injured list. After serving as an injury replacement, Cecil was dispatched right back to triple-A where he was converted into a reliever. That decision changed his career.

Cecil became an extremely dependable southpaw out of the bullpen and recorded three very good (and healthy) seasons in 2013, 2014, and 2015, pitching in 60 or more games in all of them. He was named to the American League All-Star Game in 2013 alongside fellow reliever Steve Delabar as well as José Bautista and Edwin Encarnación.

He had to deal with yet another kitchen incident when he had to skip the team’s first official workout in 2015 because he was “throwing up all over the place” according to John Gibbons. Food poisoning aside, Cecil’s streak of healthiness ended at the most inopportune time: tearing a calf muscle on a pickoff play in game 2 of the 2015 ALDS. At that point, he was a key figure in the Blue Jays bullpen, having not given up an earned run since June 22 of that year.

“I also want to thank the Blue Jays for giving me my first opportunity to play the game I love professionally. Also, the city of Toronto, my second home for so many amazing years (My kids still ask when we are going back),” Cecil wrote on his Instagram post. I think many Toronto Blue Jays fans would like to thank him for some great memories.