By Dan Roche, WBZ-TVBy Dan Roche

FORT MYERS, FL. (CBS) – The surprise of the day Sunday here in The Fort came courtesy of veteran pitcher Ryan Dempster, who announced that he won’t pitch in 2014. And, the way he was talking, he sounded as if he was retiring.

Dempster enjoyed a 16-year career in the majors, finishing with a 132-133 record and a 4.35 ERA along with 87 saves.

Dempster had neck and groin issues last season with the Red Sox. He was 8-9 with a 4.57 ERA in his only season in Boston. The cool thing for him is that he got a World Series ring, the last batter he faced, he struck out in a World Series game and he appeared in one game in the ALDS and ALCS as well.

Watch: Sports Final: Farrell on Dempster

The hardest thing for a professional athlete has to be saying goodbye to the game you love. It’s the ONLY thing you know how to do from when you are a little kid. And, you get paid oodles of money to do it. Plus, you never get the feeling back of being on a team. The every day experience of being around the guys. The ups and downs, wins and losses, off the field stuff, clowning around, etc., it will never be like that anywhere you go.

What struck me from Sunday was how well thought of Dempster was even though he only was here for one season. The players seemed to love how great a teammate he was. The manager loved Dempster’s work ethic and professionalism and the GM loved Dempster’s upbeat attitude as well as some of the fun stuff he did behind the scenes. That’s the stuff that’s crucial to a winning team. Guys that care about 1) the game itself, 2) teammates, and 3) everyone in the organization. It’s rare to find players that have it all and it sounds like Dempster was one of those special players. Anyone who is best buddies with Kevin Millar has to be special, right?

The loss of Dempster leaves the Sox with 5 veteran starting pitchers. It’s funny to think if all the talk offseason was how would the Sox handle having six starters for only 5 spots. We’ve heard it again and again, but these things have a way of working themselves out. And, this time they did.

Watch: Sports Final: Farrell Interview – Part 2

The rotation will consist of Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, and Jake Peavy. After that, the Sox will groom the youngsters from Allen Webster to Rubby De La Rosa to Drake Britton to Anthony Ranaudo to Brandon Workman.

Watch: Sports Final: Gordon Edes on Dempster, Drew

Also expect the Sox to get Dempster’s $13-million back for 2013. It will give Ben Cherington the flexibility to allow him not to go over the luxury tax threshold this season. And, if Stephen Drew doesn’t get a deal in the open market, he can bring him back for one more year if he wants to. And, if an injury pops up, he can go get someone without restrictions.

You can follow Dan on Twitter @RochieWBZ.


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