Veteran lefty Joe Thatcher is calling it quits after a 13-year professional career, Pedro Velazco of the Kokomo Tribune reports. He says that he is looking forward to remaining involved in the game by helping young ballplayers in his hometown of Kokomo, Indiana.
Thatcher, 35, worked parts of nine seasons in the majors, throwing 260 2/3 total innings — the bulk of them with the Padres. He ended with a quality stat line, compiling a 3.38 ERA with 9.3 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9.
Though he was utilized primarily as a lefty specialist, and held opposing southpaw hitters to a .232/.298/.348 slash line, Thatcher proved useful enough against right-handed opposition, too. Ultimately, he faced exactly as many batters from each side (561) in the bigs. Thatcher’s strong K numbers came against lefties — 176 fell victim — but he kept opposite-handed hitters to a palatable .278/.346/.374 batting line.
Thatcher wasn’t drafted after finishing his collegiate career at Indiana State, but caught on in independent ball and got an opportunity in the Brewers organization. He was traded to the Padres in a deadline deal that sent reliever Scott Linebrink to Milwaukee. Later, he’d be the veteran changing hands in the summer. In 2013, he was swapped to the Diamondbacks for Ian Kennedy and then was moved on to the Angels the following year.
Thatcher joined the Astros as a minor league free agent for the 2015 campaign, making the roster and providing the team with 43 appearances but working only 22 2/3 innings. While he helped Houston in what proved to be a playoff year, Thatcher lost his spot in July. He never ended up playing in the postseason, though he did spend time in 2016 with three organizations — the Cubs, Indians, and Dodgers — that played rather notable roles in the postseason this year.
Though he didn’t quite make it back to the majors in his final season of pro ball, Thatcher says he has no regrets. With a family at home, the Triple-A lifestyle no longer held appeal. “I’m at peace with the decision,” he said. “I’m proud of what I’ve done. I played pro baseball for 13 years but I’m ready to try something different and move on with the next chapter in my life.”