Former Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle retires after '11 incredible seasons'

FILE - Washington Nationals relief pitcher Sean Doolittle delivers to the New York Yankees during the ninth inning of a baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, June 13, 2018. Sean Doolittle has decided to retire from baseball after more than a decade pitching in the majors that included helping the Washington Nationals win the World Series in 2019. Doolittle announced his decision in a lengthy social media post Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)

Former Washington Nationals relief pitcher Sean Doolittle, who helped the team to a World Series title, announced his retirement "with gratitude and a full heart" on Friday.

He paired a statement with photos of his time with the Nationals and Oakland Athletics as he said goodbye "after 11 incredible seasons playing the sport I love."

The two-time All-Star began his career in Oakland, where he played his first six seasons. The team drafted him out of the University of Virginia as a first baseman 17 years ago, he noted. The 36-year-old also offered fans of the team encouragement in light of the "difficult" move to Las Vegas.

He was traded to the Nationals and loved his experience there so much that he still lives in the area. Pitching for the team from 2017 to 2020, he earned his second All-Star nod in 2018.

In Game 1 of the 2019 World Series, he recorded a save on the franchise's journey toward winning its first and only title.

"The 2019 World Series title will always be the highlight of my career because we were able to share it with you," Doolittle wrote to Nationals fans. "I don't have the words to tell you how grateful I am for your support during my time here in DC."

Doolittle returned to the Nationals on a one-year contract in March 2022. He last pitched in the majors in April 2022 and underwent season-ending elbow surgery that July. He signed a minor-league deal with Washington this year, making 11 appearances across four levels of the minors.

The Nationals responded to Doolittle's announcement with a social media post of their own:

A press conference for Doolittle will reportedly be held at Nationals Park before the team honors him during Friday's contest against the Atlanta Braves.

His statement also acknowledged the Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners, teams he played for during his "gap year" in the 2021 season. He made a joke about the online game Immaculate Grid before writing that both teams made his experience in baseball feel "more complete." He went on to thank his teammates, clubhouse staff and family.

Doolittle retires with a 26-24 MLB record, a 3.20 ERA and 112 career saves over 463 relief appearances.