Washington Nationals outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds, whose itinerant major league career began when he was the first pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 1992, retired yesterday, deciding he would rather spend time with his family than return to the minor leagues.

Hammonds, 34, was hampered by injuries throughout his 13-year career, in which he hit .272 with 110 homers and 423 RBI.

"People ask me, am I disappointed about the injuries that I've sustained during my career that prevented me from fulfilling my potential?" Hammonds said in a statement released by the club. "My answer is, 'Are you kidding?' I have played with the best ballplayers in the world. . . . That is a dream in itself."

Hammonds went on the disabled list May 22 with a pulled hamstring, and he began a rehabilitation assignment with Class AA Harrisburg earlier this week. He was activated Thursday and sent to Class AAA New Orleans, but opted to retire instead of playing in the minors.

"We talked a lot about the desire, and when you don't have the desire for the grind, it's hard to be successful," Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden said. "I think he's had a great career."

Hammonds began the season with New Orleans, and was recalled May 3. In 13 games with the Nationals, he hit .219 with one RBI .

Short Stay?

Rick Short, who was in his 12th season of professional ball but received his first call-up to the majors on Thursday, had the moment he had dreamed about, singling home a run in a pinch-hitting appearance in the fifth inning of last night's 9-3 victory over Seattle. He received a huge ovation from the crowd when he left the field.

"Very exciting," he said. "I'm very appreciative of it."

Short, however, will likely be sent back to Class AAA New Orleans today to make room for pitcher Ryan Drese. . . . Three members of the Class A Potomac Nationals were named yesterday to the Carolina League all-star team: pitcher Armando Galarraga, catcher Salomon Manriquez and first baseman Josh Whitesell.