NEXT LEVEL WATCH: Young, Spilborghs end major league careers

Ryan Spilborghs - Colorado Rockies

Ryan Spilborghs played in seven seasons for the Colorado Rockies. (Ryan McKee photo/Rich Clarkson and Associates, LLC)

Michael Young - Texas Rangers

Michael Young has retired with a career batting average of .300 in 1,823 career MLB games. (Brad Newton photo)

Former local baseball standouts Ryan Spilborghs and Michael Young have hung up their cleats.

Spilborghs, one of Santa Barbara High’s all-time greats, who went to star at UCSB, announced his retirement from baseball yesterday in a blog published by the Denver Post. He will move into broadcasting for the Colorado Rockies, for whom he played for seven seasons.

Young, arguably the best baseball player to ever put on the UCSB jersey, announced his retirement last week after a 13-year career in which he hit .300 and was one of the most durable players in the major leagues. Young, 37, played 12 full seasons for the Texas Rangers before finishing his career last season split between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Dodgers.

He is easily one of the greatest players in Texas Rangers history. No Ranger has played in more games than Young’s 1,823 in a Texas uniform. He has a franchise-best 2,230 hits, 415 doubles, 55 triples and 1,085 runs. He was a seven-time All-Star, won the AL batting title in 2005, and finished in the top-10 of the AL MVP voting twice (2004, ’11). He was the All-Star Game MVP in 2006, and won a Gold Glove at shortstop in ’08.

“My time in Texas is 13 of the best years of my life,” Young told the media when he announced his retirement.

An amazing statistic in Young’s career is he never appeared on the disabled list and averaged 155 games played in his 12 full seasons in the majors.

He admitted that he could have played this season for the Dodgers, chasing that elusive championship and adding to his 2,375 career hits. But he chose to spend time with his family: wife Cristina and sons Mateo (8), Emilio (4) and Antonio (1 1/2)

Young played at UCSB in 1998 and 1999.

Spilborghs, 34, was a fan favorite in Colorado and a key member of the Rockies’ 2007 World Series team. He is joining Root Sports as part of the team’s pregame and postgame shows.

“It was an obvious next step in my career,” Spilborghs wrote on a blog for denverpost.com explaining his decision to retire. “It’s funny when you do things … you get presented with more opportunities, and it feels right pursuing them.”

Spilborghs played seven seasons with the Rockies, last in 2011, hitting .272 with a .345 on-base percentage, 42 home runs and 218 RBIs. He played last season for Japan’s Seibu Lions and described his experience in a blog for the Denver Post.

Spilborghs played at UCSB from 2000-2002. At Santa Barbara High, he posted a career average of .472 at the varsity level (a school record) and hit a school-record .519 as a senior with a record 40 hits.

WATER POLO
Former Dos Pueblos water polo standout Conner Cleary will be making his debut with the USA men’s senior national team at the Volvo Cup in Sznolnok, Hungary.

Cleary, a junior at Stanford, is one of four newcomers selected to the squad by coach Dejan Udovicic. Team USA will play Serbia, Germany and Hungary from Feb. 7-9.

The 6-6, 225-pound Cleary, a 2010 DP graduate, scored 21 goals this season for the Cardinal.

SOCCER
Former Santa Barbara High soccer star Rodrigo Lopez is playing for the new Sacramento Republic FC of the USL PRO League. Lopez was the first player signed by the club.

“I am honored to be part of something so special as a new club,” Lopez said. “I want to thank ownership, (technical director) Graham Smith and (coach) Preki for this opportunity. These people know the game of futbol and I know the city of Sacramento is in for a great ride. I want to help build a winning franchise. Lastly, I want to thank my family and friends who have supported me all the way. Can’t wait to get on the pitch wearing a Sacramento Republic FC crest!”

Lopez left Santa Barbara High after his sophomore season to pursue a professional career in Mexico. He has played professionally for 10 years, including four years in Major League Soccer. He played for Sacramento coach Preki at Chivas USA.

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