Melvin Mora’s retirement has been greatly exaggerated. Or at least exaggerated for this country, he claims.
A report out of Venezuela last month said that Mora, who played most of his career with the Orioles, issued a tearful retirement announcement while playing winter ball in Venezuela. The story ran in several places, including The Sun.
But Mora said that was news to him. Despite multiple reports to the contrary out of Venezuela, Mora said what he announced was that he was no longer going to play in Venezuela because he didn’t want to leave his family every year. But he doesn’t intend to give up the sport altogether. He is still hoping to play in the majors in 2012.
“I’m only retired in Venezuela, it’s too far from my family, that’s what I was saying there,” said Mora, who turns 40 next month. “When I got back here, my wife is like, ‘Are you retired? They say in the paper you are retired. I’m like, ‘Noooo.’ I didn’t talk to anyone in the U.S. I am not retired here.”
Mora -- who didn’t return phone calls in late December because he was in Venezuela -- was released by the Diamondbacks in June after hitting .228 in 127 at-bats for Arizona. He didn’t get a shot from any other team after that, but said he had every intention of playing again this coming season.
He said he is willing to take a minor league deal with a spring invitation from an East Coast team and would be willing to be a utility player. Mora said his agent talked to the Colorado Rockies -- for whom Mora hit .285 in 113 games in 2010 -- about a potential spring invitation, but Mora wants to remain as close as he can to his wife and six kids in Bel Air.
“If anything is close to my house, I am interested,” he said.
The Orioles had shown no interest in re-signing Mora -- even before his mini retirement -- preferring to fill their utility spots with younger players.
But he is hoping another team will call his agent. At the least, he said, he wants to let people know that he has retired from being retired. And the next time a retirement happens, he’s letting the Baltimore media know.
“My reaction is to call you guys first,” Mora said, laughing. “This was unbelievable.”
Mora was traded to the Orioles by the New York Mets in July 2000 as part of then-general manager Syd Thrift’s fire sale. He played for the Orioles for the next 9 1/2 seasons spanning 1,256 of his 1,556 career games. He made two All-Star teams for the Orioles and in 2004 batted .340 with 27 homers and won a Silver Slugger and Most Valuable Oriole honors.