Former Giants lefty Rueter retires

Former Giants lefty Rueter retires

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The lanky, good-natured pitcher nicknamed "Woody" bid baseball goodbye Monday, but Kirk Rueter will live forever in San Francisco athletic lore.

The 35-year-old left-hander admits he didn't have a flaming fastball or wicked curve, the game's electric "stuff" -- he laughed, "I always wanted to know what that stuff was" -- yet his legacy is one of fierce competitiveness, always giving the Giants a chance to win.

Rueter literally made his living on the edge ... the outside edge of the plate, the whims of umpires, finesse and craft, and always seemed to be walking a hittable tightrope.

Now he's back home in Nashville, Ill., for good, being a dad to kindergarten kid Hope and young daughter Halle Jade, enjoying more time with wife Karla and not missing the travel and hotels and a summer far away from his family.

There were feelers from some Major League teams as late as last week, but even then he was 99 percent sure he would retire. Now it's official.

"It was a great run for me, and I don't consider myself anything but a Giant," said Rueter of his 15-year big-league career, the final nine with San Francisco. He had a 2-7 mark and 5.95 ERA in 2005.

Despite some hurt feelings before being belatedly designated for assignment last August, the likeable pitcher holds no grudges, no regrets, only good memories.

Rueter thanked the Giants organization for treating his family as one of their own, and the team will honor him with a Kirk Rueter Day sometime this season at AT&T Park.

"I'll miss the fifth day, the day that I pitch, the big games in August and September," said Rueter of baseball action, "but the four days in between and road trips, I won't miss those at all."

Rueter had seven consecutive 10-win seasons for the Giants, was the club leader in victories for lefties during the 1990s (45-27) and sparkled in two World Series outings vs. the Angels in 2002, featuring a six-inning stint in Game 4 and four innings of one-hit relief work in Game 7.

With the Giants, he had a 105-80 record and 4.32 RA in 281 games. He ranks third in San Francisco for wins, third in starts, fifth for innings pitched and fifth with a .568 winning percentage.

He became the 21st pitcher in franchise history to win 100 contests for the club.

Rueter was tagged "Woody" for his resemblance to the big-eared cowboy character in "Toy Story" and was an animated man in the clubhouse, especially during March Madness while cheering for his beloved North Carolina Tar Heels.

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.