Cherington: Westmoreland showed grace in retirement

Cherington: Westmoreland showed grace in retirement
March 6, 2013, 6:45 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was three years ago this month when news broke that Ryan Westmoreland, one of the Red Sox top prospects, was diagnosed with a cavernous malformation of the brain. It was a dire diagnosis, one that few people had ever heard, and fewer understood.

Westmoreland underwent surgery in Arizona and later continued to work out with Red Sox minor league teams. But a setback last summer led to another surgery and neurological challenges that would no longer allow him to play baseball.

Westmoreland, a fifth-round pick in 2008 out of Portsmouth High in Rhode Island, announced his retirement Wednesday. He will turn 23 on April 27.

“Ryan’s a remarkable young man,” said Sox general manager Ben Cherington. “He was an incredibly talented baseball player, a special talent as a baseball player. We got to know him more as a person after the first incident a few years back and we’ve come to learn that he’s even a more special person. So today’s decision by him was something that we knew was coming and we’d been talking to him about. We just couldn’t be more impressed by a human being than we are by Ryan and the way he’s handled this, the grace he’s shown, he’s inspired a lot of people."

“It’s one of those stories in the game that you see, a very young, talented player who’s got all the physical gifts that you would see in a bright young prospect,” said manager John Farrell. “Certainly a shame what’s transpired. Something that’s totally out of his control and I know that the Red Sox continue to support him. And I think we can all learn by the way he’s gone about the challenge that he’s encountered. But this was one heck of a prospect at the time.”

Jon Lester, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, can relate to Westmoreland’s journey. He expressed hope that Westmoreland would be able to stay in the game in some capacity. For now, though, Cherington said Westmoreland has other plans.