It was fitting that 17-month-old Mike Jones Jr. fussed in the background while dad, a former first round pick whose path to the Major Leagues was blocked by injuries, discussed a future away from the pitcher’s mound.
“I’m retiring from the game of baseball,” Jones said via telephone from Boston, where his family has begun a new phase. “I gave it everything I had. There just wasn’t much need out there for a 27-year-old broke-down, struggling Minor League pitcher, former first-rounder or not.”
So he’ll transition to a new role as Mr. Mom. Jones’ wife is Comcast SportsNet New England reporter and anchor Nicole Zaloumis, who used to cover the Mariners as part of her duties with FSN Northwest. She gave birth to Mike Jr. in September 2009, the day after dad returned home from Triple-A Nashville.
Jones was back at Triple-A last June and topping out at 93-94 mph — though he stopped paying attention to the radar gun long ago — when the Brewers released him to clear a needed roster spot. He returned home to Huntsville, Ala. and stayed in baseball shape for about a month and a half. No one called.
So Jones took a break and began throwing again in October, hopeful that an organization would show interest. There wasn’t any.
Around New Year’s Day, Jones decided to call it quits. In parts of nine Minor League seasons punctuated by major shoulder and elbow injuries, Jones was 31-32 with a 3.75 ERA.
“There are a lot of reasons to go, but the main reason is we’ve got a growing family now,” said Jones, who will turn 28 in April. “My wife and I agreed that day care Monday through Friday is not the way we were raised, and it’s not the way we would like to go about things.
“The way my career was going, I wasn’t happy. I got tired of getting ready for the season and having it end in disappointment and frustration, which is the way at least the last three or four years have been. Yes, I had bright moments, and things to be encouraged about, but at the end of the day I never bargained for three surgeries. I didn’t want to be on the long road I was on for the last seven or eight years. The odds were stacked against me, and it seemed like all signs pointed to retirement and moving on with my life.”
For more about Jones’ future plans, including some front office aspirations, check out Brewers.com later today.