Steve Carlton is done chasing Warren Spahn.
It's time for Carlton to watch others chase his legacy, a point baseball teams have impressed upon him for three years, and one he reluctantly conceded Wednesday.Carlton, whose 329 career wins trail only Spahn's 363 among major league left-handers, made the announcement in a brief statement issued by the Philadelphia Phillies, for whom he won 241 games.
"My arm hasn't rehabilitated the way I had hoped," said Carlton, 44, who in September underwent surgery to remove eight chips from his pitching shoulder.
"I'm still experiencing some pain and I've decided I no longer would be active as a player."
Carlton played for five teams in the last three years in his bid to stay in the game he loves. Even Wednesday, "Lefty" wouldn't use the word "retirement" in the announcement that came almost a year after his last release. After that release by the Minnesota Twins, Carlton held out hope of another chance.
"I can still pitch. I know I can still pitch," Carlton told The Philadelphia Inquirer last May in one of his rare interviews. "I had a lot of things that I still wanted to accomplish. I wanted to beat Spahnie's record. But you can't make them take you."
"I think he would have to go down in history as one of the greatest left-handed pitchers of all time," Phillies President Bill Giles said.
Carlton had a 22-year mark of 329-244, with a 3.22 earned run average.
Carlton struck out 4,136, second all-time to Nolan Ryan. His NL records include years pitched, 22; games started, 677; consecutive starts, 534; walks, 1,717; and strikeouts, 4,000.