June 10, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Matt Diaz (23) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the second inning of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Former Brave Matt Diaz Retires

Though never a regular starter for the Atlanta Braves, Matt Diaz was a fan favorite.  He played a total of seven years for the Braves, from 2006 to 2010, and then again for about a year and a half in 20011-12.  Yesterday, Diaz unofficially announced his retirement on his own personal blog, mattediaz.blogspot.com. 

An interesting read, Matt shared some personal thoughts about his time with Atlanta, including personal thoughts about the influence of his coaches and teammates.  He opened the announcement about his decision with the following…

This is a blog that I’ve known for a while I was going to write.  I just didn’t officially decide to write it until last night.  I’m moving on in my life from playing baseball.  Notice, I didn’t say, I was done with baseball!  How could anyone who loves the game ever “be done.”  And certainly I love the game!  I love the way it taught me to fail and get over it.  I love the way it helped me become the man I am today.  I love the way it’s provided for me and my family.  There’s so much to love about this game.  I just don’t love playing it anymore, and that’s how I know it’s time to not pursue a job playing this year.

In his almost seven complete seasons with Atlanta as a utility player, he performed pretty well, hitting on a line of .299/.347/.449/.796 over those years.  Primarily a left-fielder and pinch hitter, Diaz’ best years are shown in the table below, where 2007 and 2009 stand out for Diaz when he hit .338/.313, and drove in as many as 58 runs, and hitting 13 homers in 2009.

2006 ATL 124 323 297 37 97 15 4 7 32 5 11 49 .327 .364 .475 .839
2007 ATL 135 384 358 44 121 21 0 12 45 4 16 63 .338 .368 .497 .865
2009 ATL 125 425 371 56 116 18 4 13 58 12 35 90 .313 .390 .488 .878
2010 ATL 84 244 224 27 56 17 2 7 31 3 13 44 .250 .302 .438 .739
ATL (7 yrs) 578 1671 1528 185 457 80 10 43 194 29 88 307 .299 .347 .449 .796
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/5/2014.

Of the various influential coaches and players in Matt’s life, he spoke of the great Bobby Cox, and notable players, saying…

Bobby Cox: You helped me be better than I ever thought I could be.  You taught me how to lead, and that’s one of the most valuable traits I’ve ever learned.

There are too many of you to list, but just of few who I cannot go any further without thanking.
Chipper: Why a future Hall of Famer decided it was worth his time to help a career AAA guy still escapes me, but I thank God you did!
BMac, Frenchie, Kelly, Pete, Langy, Huddy:  Some of my best baseball memories are that 2006 season and each of you played a part in making that so fun.  (Kelly even though you were hurt you really showed me how to be a teammate)
Nortey, Hinske, Rossy, Prad:  I sat the bench many nights with y’all and really enjoyed every minute.
Like I said this list could go on forever, just know how much I enjoyed sharing the baseball life with all of you!
I missed Matt last season, and still do.  Matt is a family man, a Godly man, and while not an everyday starter, Matt had as much influence on those he spoke of as they had on him.  One great thing about some of what Matt said on his blog is that he’s not giving up on baseball.  All indications are that he has no plans to be a player any longer, but he did indicate he might take a role in some other fashion in baseball when he said, “Notice, I didn’t say, I was done with baseball!  How could anyone who loves the game ever ‘be done.'”  Who knows?  Perhaps we’ll see Matt coaching or calling games or doing something for the Braves at some point.  That, in my opinion, would be a breath of fresh air.

Tags: Atlanta Braves Braves FanSided Matt Diaz

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