The Wisconsin native had been pitching for his home-state Milwaukee Brewers this season and had a 7.94 ERA in 5⅔ innings pitched. His final appearance was Friday, when he pitched two scoreless innings against the Miami Marlins.
“I have had the joy of playing the game that I love for the past 15 years,” Zimmermann, who spent two years in the minors before making the big leagues, said in a statement. “I will forever be thankful to the Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers for allowing me to live out this dream. It has been particularly special to be able to end it all playing for my hometown team, the Milwaukee Brewers. Thank you to all of my friends, teammates and family members who have been by my side throughout this incredible journey. I will miss the game greatly, but I’m ready for the new phase of my life.”
RHP Jordan Zimmermann has announced his retirement. Zimmermann was the 11th Wisconsin-born (Marshfield) player to play for the Brewers. pic.twitter.com/moDCEssTNo
— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) May 11, 2021
He later told reporters that, “My mind was still in it, but my body wasn’t. Living out of suitcases half the year. I felt like it was the right thing to do at this time, to call it a career. I’m happy to start the next chapter of my life.”
Zimmermann initially planned to retire a little earlier.
After signing a minor league deal with the Brewers this year and failing to make the team’s initial major league roster, Zimmermann decided at the end of April to retire. He changed his mind a couple of hours later when the Brewers called to promote him to the big leagues after a flurry of injuries hit their pitching staff.
“It was pretty crazy how it happened,” Zimmermann said Tuesday. “I was basically retired for a couple hours when they gave me a call and say they needed some help, so I came down, gave them a few innings and tried to bridge the gap because they had a lot of [injured list] guys. I knew I wouldn’t be there long, but I wanted to be able to help them out and have those other guys get healthy. At this point, there’s a lot of them getting healthier and ready to come back.”
The Nationals selected him from Division III school Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the second round of the 2007 draft, and he went 70-50 with a 3.32 ERA with the franchise from 2009 to 2015.
Zimmermann, 34, threw his no-hitter in the 2014 regular-season finale in a 1-0 victory over the Marlins.
He finished seventh in the Cy Young Award voting in 2013, when he won a career-best 19 games, and fifth in 2014 while making the NL All-Star team both of those seasons.
“I guess my proudest thing would be as a small-town kid who played at a Division III school and made it to the big leagues,” Zimmermann said Tuesday. “That’s tough to do.”
Zimmermann wasn’t nearly as effective after moving to the American League to sign a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers in 2015, posting a 25-41 record with a 5.63 ERA.
Zimmermann got emotional Tuesday as he discussed his Detroit experience.
“Just wish I would have stayed healthy,” said a tearful Zimmermann, who paused for about 30 seconds before finishing his response. “Yeah. I wish I could have gave more. The body just wasn’t holding up.”
He finishes his career with a 95-91 record and 4.07 ERA.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.