OF Willingham announces retirement

(SportsNetwork.com) - Free agent outfielder Josh Willingham has chosen to retire after 11 major league seasons.

ESPN.com first reported the news on Monday. Willingham's wife, Ginger, later confirmed her husband's decision on her Twitter account.

Willingham established career bests of 35 home runs and 110 RBI with the Minnesota Twins in 2012, but has struggled at the plate the last two seasons. He hit just .208 over 111 games in 2013 and posted a .215 average with 14 homers and 40 RBI in a combined 92 games with the Twins and Kansas City Royals last season.

"I felt like it wouldn't be fair to myself, and more importantly to the team that was paying me a lot of money to perform at a high level, if there was a chance my dedication would waver -- particularly as the season got longer," Willingham told ESPN. "I'm honored to have played for as many years as I have, and I feel even luckier to walk away on my own terms instead of having the decision made for me."

Willingham did get to appear in his first-ever postseason after being traded to the eventual AL champion Royals in August. The veteran slugger recorded one hit in four pinch-hit appearances during Kansas City's run to the World Series.

The 35-year-old had 20 or more home runs in five of his 11 seasons and ends his career with 195 homers, 632 RBI and a .253 average in 1,147 games with the Marlins, Washington, Oakland, Minnesota and Kansas City.

Willingham won an AL Silver Slugger Award while with the Twins in 2012.