‘It’s over’: Knights’ Yermín Mercedes steps away from baseball in surprise announcement

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Chicago White Sox and Charlotte Knights catcher Yermín Mercedes announced Wednesday night via Instagram that he will be stepping away from baseball “indefinitely.”

The announcement came as a surprise to the baseball world. Making his major league debut for the White Sox in April, the Dominican rookie slugger had one of the hottest starts in MLB history. He registered eight hits over his first eight plate appearances — the first time that’s happened since 1900 — with a double, a home run and four RBIs.

When the 28-year-old inevitably cooled off and found himself in a hitting slump through May and June, the White Sox demoted him to Triple-A Charlotte, where he had started to find his groove again, batting .298 with four home runs, six extra-base hits and 10 RBIs.

Though it seemed like he was one of the Knights’ closest to receiving another call-up to the majors, it didn’t seem to matter on Wednesday night, when he posted the Spanish phrase “el retiro,” or “retirement,” with a thought bubble emoji to his Instagram story, followed by a longer post.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

“To all the teams that I was with, I apologize for failing as a human being and for not tolerating their decisions,” Mercedes said in the post. “In this way, I am stepping away from baseball indefinitely.”

“God bless, it’s over.”

Mercedes spent time with the minor league organizations of the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles. He joined the White Sox organization in 2017 and first suited up for High-A Winston Salem in 2018. After time with the Birmingham Barons and the Knights, he was called up to the White Sox’ 40-man roster in 2019, debuting as a pinch-hitter for one at-bat in August 2020.

Soon after the announcement, the White Sox organization released an official statement, saying that although they were aware of Mercedes’ post, he is still an active player on Charlotte’s roster and has not given any official notice to the team regarding his abrupt retirement.

One of those “decisions” Mercedes may not have tolerated was getting sent down to the minors after a hitting slump. White Sox manager Tony La Russa, who only became aware of Mercedes’ announcement after the Sox’ 7-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins last night, said people knew how “close” he and Mercedes were, and that he would reach out to him.

“He knows I’m a supporter of his,” La Russa told reporters. “So I’ll reach out to him and see what’s going on. It could be he’s just feeling frustrated. I’ll try to explain to him he’s got a big-league future.”

Mercedes and La Russa had a more public interaction during a game between the White Sox and the Twins in May. In the ninth inning of a blowout Sox win, the Twins used catcher Willians “La Tortuga” Astudillo as a pitcher. After working a 3-0 count, Mercedes took a 47 mph pitch deep for a homer, putting the icing on a 16-4 win.

After the game, La Russa lambasted his own player for being disrespectful. Hitting a home run off a position player on a 3-0 count in a blowout win was one too many of the “unwritten rules” broken, for which La Russa said there would be “consequences within our family.”

“The fact that he’s a rookie and excited helps explain why he just was clueless,” La Russa said after that game. “But now he’s got a clue.”

The very next night, Minnesota may have attempted retaliation against Mercedes when Twins reliever Tyler Duffey threw a 93 mph pitch behind Mercedes, getting himself and Twins manager Rocco Baldelli ejected from the game. After the game, when reporters asked La Russa for his thoughts on the incident, he seemed to defend the Twins reliever.

“The guy threw a sinker,” La Russa said. “It didn’t look good. So I wasn’t that suspicious. I’m suspicious if somebody throws at somebody’s head. I don’t have a problem with how the Twins handled that.”