After word spread of Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland's retirement in the wake of two brain surgeries and a inspiring comeback attempt, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington expressed admiration and respect for the talented 22-year-old.
“Ryan is a remarkable young man," he said. "He was an incredibly talented baseball player, a special, special talent as a baseball player, and 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 an even more special person. Today’s decision by him was something we knew was coming and we’ve been talking to him. 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."
Cherington spoke of Westmoreland's great potential, and of his first impressions of the Portsmouth (R.I.) High School standout.
"Just an elite talent," he said. "I got to see him first in high school at Portsmouth. That summer, when he was playing, he got better every time you saw him. There was truly not much he couldn’t do on the field, and he was a really smart kid, and just a good family, from New England, the whole thing. [We were] really excited to sign him and he showed a lot early in his time with the Red Sox. Like I said, and I told this to Ryan the other day, you know, for some reason some people don’t get dealt the same hand, and some of those hands are unfair and he got dealt a bad hand. But there’s a path for him he’s going to find, and there’s going to be a lot of happiness in his future and I can’t imagine anyone else handling this the way he did."
Westmoreland has expressed interest in returning to college and then eventually working in baseball, and Cherington acknowledged that the young man has "an intellectual capability to help a team."
“I think it’s something he does down the road if that’s something he wants to do," said Cherington. "I think most importantly, the first step for him is maybe take a step away in the short term, and really figure out the path that makes sense for him and we’ll support him in doing that. I know he wants to go to college, that’s important, no matter where his path leads him. ... But if baseball is something he wants to be a part of his future down the road, he certainly has an intellectual capability to help a team."
Cherington added that the Red Sox will stay in touch with Westmoreland and help him pursue the next chapter in his life.
"The relationships will certainly remain and we’ll help him any way we can," he said. "And I do believe, if he wants to pursue baseball down the road, he’ll have that opportunity. I was in scouting when he signed, then I was an assistant GM and now I’m GM, but taking all those hats aside, as a friend of Ryan I think it’s best to take a little time away from the Red Sox."