‘Big Unit’ calls it quits after 22 years

Randy Johnson looked so awkward on the mound early in his career, that shaggy hair dangling down his neck as he fired a blazing fastball in every direction but the strike zone.

Now, after 22 major league seasons, The Big Unit is walking away from baseball as one of the game’s greatest pitchers.

The 6-foot-10 Johnson announced his retirement on a conference call Tuesday, a decision that had been expected from the overpowering left-hander who reached 300 wins last June.

“I really wanted to go out on my terms,” Johnson said. “I just feel like there’s not a lot more for me to do in this game. I just think it’s a natural progression when you play this long. Eventually you have to say it’s time.”

A five-time Cy Young Award winner, the 46-year-old Johnson accomplished just about everything in his remarkable career that a player hopes for in baseball.

He owns a World Series ring and co-MVP honors, and was a 10-time All-Star. He threw two no-hitters, including a perfect game, and ranks second on the career strikeout list.

Johnson finishes with a record of 303-166 and 4,875 strikeouts in 4,135 innings for Montreal, Seattle, Houston, Arizona, the New York Yankees and San Francisco.

His strikeouts are the most by a left-hander and second to Nolan Ryan’s 5,714.

“It’s all been a bit of a whirlwind. I never really got caught up in what I did,” he said. “I never really dwelled on my achievements. They’re nice. Maybe now I’ll be able to reflect on them.”

Holliday staying in St. Louis

Matt Holliday is staying with the St. Louis Cardinals, agreeing to a $120 million, seven-year contract that is baseball’s richest deal of the offseason.

The three-time All-Star confirmed he was returning in an interview on ESPN Radio.

“I’m going back to the Cardinals,” Holliday said. “I’m excited about it.”

His agreement includes $119 million guaranteed over seven seasons plus a $17 million vesting option for 2017 with a $1 million buyout, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

St. Louis acquired Holliday from Oakland in July and he helped lead the Cardinals to their first NL Central title since 2006.

Angels announcer dies

Rory Markas, a play-by-play sportscaster who spent the past eight seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, has died. He was 54.

Markas was found dead at his home in Palmdale, Calif., on Monday and the cause of death was not available, Angels spokesman Tim Mead said Tuesday. Markas had surgery for a blood clot on his brain in late 2008.

He also was the voice of the USC men’s basketball team and a reporter and sportscaster for KTTV-TV in Los Angeles. Last month, Markas was named the Angels’ lead TV broadcaster for the upcoming season.

He was in his 12th season as the radio play-by-play voice of USC, most recently calling the win over Arizona State on Saturday.

Earlier in his career, he was a broadcaster from 1981-87 for the Salt Lake City Gulls and the Vancouver Canadians of the Pacific Coast League. The Gulls were a minor league team of the Seattle Mariners from 1982-84.

Short hops

Catcher Kelly Shoppach and the Tampa Bay Rays agreed to a $5.5 million, two-year contract.. ... Corner infielder Troy Glaus and the Atlanta Braves finalized a $1.75 million, one-year contract, a deal that allows him to earn an additional $2.25 million in performance and roster bonuses. ... The San Francisco Giants and utility player Juan Uribe finalized a $3.25 million, one-year contract. ... The Phillies finalized a $5.25 million, two-year contract with reliever Danys Baez. ... Outfielders Austin Kearns and Shelley Duncan agreed to minor league contracts with the Cleveland Indians. ... The Florida Marlins will have new road uniforms, with the front of the jersey saying “Marlins” instead of “Florida” and an “F” logo patch will be removed from the left sleeve.