Baseball

Pitcher Tony Saunders packs it in after breaking arm again

Tony Saunders will never pitch in the major leagues again.

In an emotional press conference Friday night, the 26-year-old left-handed pitcher announced he is retiring after breaking his arm for the second time in 15 months during a game last Thursday.

About a minute into a news conference at Tropicana Field, Saunders broke down. Wiping tears away, he said: "It's just hard knowing you're done."

After more than one year of physiotherapy, Saunders was trying to get back into form with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when his pitching arm snapped almost in the same place as it did in May, 1999, against the Texas Rangers.

"I can't do it again," he said. "Not physically or mentally, but I don't know what's going to happen and I want my health. And this time by me just breaking it, and there not being any nerve damage, it could be a blessing because I still do have my health."

Saunders, pitching in a minor-league game for single-A St. Petersburg on Thursday night, crumpled to the ground in agony on the 33rd pitch of an outing scheduled to last four innings or no more than 60 pitches.

He underwent surgery to reset the bone at Bayfront Medical Center, and was released Friday afternoon. The team said he would return to his home in Baltimore.

Dr. Koco Eaton, the Devil Rays' orthopedic physician, said the fracture occurred in the same general area of the humerus -- the bone running from the shoulder to the elbow -- that Saunders originally injured.

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