LOS ANGELES -- Jason Schmidt filed for free agency last week, surprising a lot of people who thought he had already retired.
"Just leaving my options open," he said. "At this moment, no, I'm not thinking about pitching anymore. Down the road, I'm not sure. Initially, I'd say no way. I'm not planning on playing at this moment. In my mind, I retired when I left in August."
Schmidt, 36, said when he signed a contract with the Dodgers three years ago that it would probably be his last. Much has occurred since that signing, most of it disappointing and nothing that has made Schmidt change his mind.
For $47 million, the Dodgers got three victories in three years, while Schmidt got two shoulder operations and the stigma of a player who, if he wasn't damaged goods before he signed (he insists he wasn't), seemed to be as soon as he put on a Dodgers uniform. He made 10 starts as a Dodger, going 3-6 with a 6.02 ERA.
Schmidt spent virtually the entire three years dealing with injuries. After one victory in 2007, he underwent major shoulder surgery. He never threw a Major League pitch in 2008 and he finally made a comeback of sorts with a pair of victories in July of this year, but he was shut down again because of continued discomfort.
A power thrower before signing with the Dodgers, Schmidt had to become a finesse pitcher after the surgery, and he had two victories to prove he could. But he soon fell into a cycle where he needed routine cortisone injections just to throw in the high-80s without pain, which led to his quiet return home in early August.
"Sure, it's all a little disappointing," he said of his time with the Dodgers. "It was nice to get back and pitch four more games. There was a little closure that way. If I hadn't, I would have wondered if I could still do it. But I couldn't throw hard enough and I wasn't happy throwing that way. It's not my style, topping out at 84. It just wasn't meant to be."
He said he wants to spend more time with his family (his children are ages 8, 5 and 2) in Arizona, less time traveling. And he wished that in the time he spent in Los Angeles he had been physically able to help the Dodgers, who have had to scramble to fill in the innings he was expected to pitch.
"I never felt part of that thing," he said. "Joe Torre never knew me as the pitcher I was. I felt I was always walking on eggshells."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.