Three-time MLB champion pitcher Lester retires at 38

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Jon Lester of the Chicago Cubs reacts after striking out Matt Holliday of the Colorado Rockies for the third out in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies. AFP

Jon Lester, a starting pitcher on three World Series championship teams, announced his retirement from Major League Baseball on Wednesday after 16 seasons.

Lester went 200-117 with a 3.66 earned-run average over 452 career appearances with the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Oakland A’s, Washington Nationals and St Louis Cardinals.

The five-time MLB All-Star, who turned 38 last Friday, beat lymphoma cancer in his rookie season that caused him to miss parts of the 2006 and 2007 campaigns.

“Once I got back to baseball, I tried not to take anything for granted and really appreciated being around the guys,” Lester told ESPN.

He recoverd and went on to help Boston capture the World Series in 2007 and 2013 and played a key role in the Cubs’ ending the longest title drought in American sport by winning the 2016 World Series for their first crown since 1908.

“It’s getting harder for me physically,” Lester told ESPN. “The little things that come up throughout the year turned into bigger things that hinder your performance.

“I’d like to think I’m a halfway decent self-evaluator. I don’t want someone else telling me I can’t do this anymore. I want to be able to hand my jersey over and say, ‘Thank you, it has been fun.’ That’s probably the biggest deciding factor.”

In 2008, Lester pitched a no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals, becoming the 18th career Boston hurler to achieve the feat.

Lester won the fourth and final game of the 2007 World Series, pitching 5 2/3 shutout innings at Colorado. He became only the third World Series pitcher to win a clincher in his first playoff start.

He won games one and five of the 2013 World Series over St Louis, helping the Red Sox capture the best-of-seven showdown in six games.

Lester pitched the Cubs to a game five triumph in the 2016 World Series when Chicago was on the brink of defeat, then took the mound in a relief role in game seven at Cleveland to help deliver a historic triumph.

He led the National League in victories in 2018, going 18-6, but struggled in 2020 and played last year for Washington and St Louis, taking his 200th and final career victory for the Cardinals over Milwaukee last September.