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Nen calls it quits after 10 seasons

Associated Press

Robb Nen tried as hard as anyone to extend his career as one of baseball’s best closers, working countless hours to rehabilitate his troublesome shoulder after three operations.

Following yet another setback, the former Giants pitcher has decided to retire.

“He tried and got close again, and fell back down,” San Francisco trainer Stan Conte said Sunday, a day after speaking to Nen about the decision. “It’s been so frustrating. I’m surprised he lasted this long.”

Nen, who had 43 saves and a 2.20 ERA in 2002 to help the Giants reach the World Series, hasn’t pitched in more than two years. He played through the pain during the playoffs that season, knowing he needed surgery and that he was risking further damage.

The Giants fell six outs short of a championship. Nen has said he has no regrets.

“What he did to stay on the field in 2002, he jeopardized his career,” lefty reliever Jason Christiansen said. “He put the team above himself. Everybody who was here in 2002 has so much respect for what he did. If it hadn’t been for him, we wouldn’t have gone to the World Series.”

Nen has 314 career saves in 10 major league seasons and is one of 18 pitchers to reach the 300 mark.

Greer ends comeback attempt

Texas Rangers outfielder Rusty Greer has given up his comeback attempt and retired, nearly three years after playing his last game.

Greer’s all-out, aggressive style made him a fan favorite during his nine playing seasons (1994-2002), which included the team’s only three American League West titles. It also led to the multiple injuries and operations that ended his career.

Texas declined Greer’s 2005 contract option in October, making him a free agent. The Rangers, however, were interested in him coming to spring training on a minor league contract.

Pujols to work through sore foot

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols has no plans to take it easy during spring training, even though his running might be restricted because of a heel injury that hindered him much of last season.

“I’m going to go out and try to win a job,” he said after reporting to camp at Roger Dean Stadium, where pitchers and catchers were working out for the second day.

Position players are due Tuesday but Pujols was early along with several other veterans, including Jim Edmonds and Larry Walker.

Pujols, third in the National League MVP voting last year behind Barry Bonds and Adrian Beltre, has chronic plantar fasciitis, a condition more commonly associated with long-distance running. Pujols is affected most when he runs the bases aggressively, though the injury didn’t stop him from racking up impressive stats last year.

Clearing the bases

Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella missed Sunday’s spring training workout to be with his ailing 86-year-old father, who is hospitalized with a heart condition. Bench coach John McLaren ran the morning session for pitchers and catchers. … Right-hander Kelvim Escobar won’t throw from the mound for about 10 days during training camp because of tightness in his arm. … Catcher J.R. House, once considered the top prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, faces season-ending surgery to repair tears in his right labrum and rotator cuff.

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