Brown Retires; A's Ink LeCroy

Former first round draft pick Jeremy Brown announced his retirement on Friday, two days after pitchers and catchers were scheduled to report to the Oakland A's major league spring training camp. The A's have signed veteran catcher Matthew LeCroy to a minor-league contract and invited him to spring training to take Brown's place in camp.

Jeremy Brown, the former Alabama star, announced his retirement from baseball six seasons after he was a first-round pick of the Oakland A's in 2002. The right-handed hitting catcher retires with a career .269 average and 68 homers in 539 minor league games. He also appeared in five major league games, collecting three hits in 10 at-bats.

Brown was a non-roster invitee to the A's spring training camp this year. It would have been his fifth major league camp appearance. Brown's announcement comes after he had a strong season with Triple-A Sacramento, where he hit .276 with 14 homers and an 833 OPS in 94 games. He also was a clubhouse leader on a River Cats' club that won the Pacific Coast League and Triple-A championships.

Brown first became well-known to A's fans when he was featured prominently in Michael Lewis' book "Moneyball," which chronicled the A's 2002 season, including their draft class that year. Brown's best season in the minor leagues came in 2005 when he hit a career-high 20 home runs and posted an 846 OPS. Brown won a Texas League championship with Midland that season.

He was on the A's 40-man roster from November 2004 until May 2007, when he was designated for assignment. He cleared waivers and returned to the A's organization shortly thereafter. Brown would have been competing with Rob Bowen and Justin Knoedler to be the A's back-up catcher this spring.

The A's announced on Friday that they had signed Matthew LeCroy to a minor-league contract. LeCroy has been extended an invitation to the A's major league camp. The veteran catcher has been in professional baseball since 1997 when he was selected in the first round by the Minnesota Twins.

He was with the Twins organization until 2005, spending parts of six seasons with the Twins major league team. His best offensive season in the big leagues came in 2003 when he hit .287 with 17 homers and an 832 OPS in 107 games. He had four hits in nine at-bats versus the A's during the 2002 AL Divisional Series, won by the Twins in five games.

LeCroy signed with the Washington Nationals in 2006 and appeared in 39 games, batting .239 with a 723 OPS. He re-signed with Minnesota in 2007, but spent much of the 2007 season in Triple-A, where he hit .194 in 80 games for Rochester. He appeared in seven games for the Twins in 2007, batting .150 in 20 at-bats.

He is a career .260 hitter with 60 homers and 218 RBIs in 476 major league games. LeCroy can play first base, as well as catcher, and has always been a very good hitter versus left-handed pitchers.

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