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BOSTON (CBS) – Ryan Westmoreland, a one-time highly touted Red Sox prospect, retired from baseball on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old Rhode Island native was a fifth round pick by the Red Sox in the 2008 draft, but multiple brain surgeries have ended his baseball career.
Westmoreland made the announcement in an email to media members on Wednesday.
“With a clear mind and heart, as well as the unwavering support and friendship of my family, friends, agent(s), doctors, therapists and the Boston Red Sox, I have decided to voluntarily retire as a professional baseball player,” Westmoreland wrote, according to the Providence Journal. “Although it is a very difficult decision for me, it has become clear that the neurological damage caused by the most recent cavernous malformation and surgery leaves me with physical challenges that make it impossible to play the game at such a high level.”
“In my heart, I know that I have worked as hard as one possibly could to overcome the obstacles presented by this unfortunate series of events,” he continued. “It is with that confidence that I am comfortable turning the page, and searching for ‘the reason’ that this has happened. I believe that there is a plan for me that will utilize my experiences, however painful some may have been, to do something special in my life. It is time for me to find that path, and to pursue it with the same focus and effort that I pursued the dream of playing professional baseball.”
“Ryan is a remarkable young man,” Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Wednesday from Fort Myers, Florida. “He was an incredibly talented 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 he’s even more of a special person. His decision was something we knew was coming and had talked to him about. We couldn’t be more impressed with a human being than we are with Ryan and the way he’s handled this. With the grace he’s shown, he’s inspired a lot of people.”
Westmoreland received a $2 million signing bonus with the team to forgo his college career at Vanderbilt after being drafted, and was assigned to the Single-A Lowell Spinners for the 2009 season. There, the outfielder hit .296 with seven home runs and 35 RBIs in 60 games.
But prior to the 2010 season, when Westmoreland was a Top 25 prospect in baseball, he began experiencing weakness and was later diagnosed with a cavernous malformation in his brainstem. He underwent surgery in March of 2010, and began his road to a comeback, but suffered a setback and had to undergo a second surgery last July, which proved to be career-ending.