According to Brian MacPherson, Ryan Westmoreland has decided to retire from baseball.
It's a sad ending to an all-too-short career that, at one point, looked like it had the chance to be one of the brightest in the league. Picked by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2008 draft and signed for a $2 million bonus, Westmoreland instantly emerged as one of the most talented young players in the system. Then, in March 2010 he was diagnosed with a cavernous malformation of the brain stem.
His road back from surgery was slow, but as he worked his way back onto the field and came closer and closer to actually making a return to minor league action, it seemed like Westmoreland could end up as one of baseball's best stories. July 2012 brought another surgery, however, to deal with complications from the first, and with it went any real hope of an eventual return.
Of course, when talking about matters of this gravity, baseball is not the most pressing of concerns. But we're a baseball site, and we talk about baseball, and for all that Westmoreland's story could end up being an inspirational look at a man overcoming tremendous adversity, at least in terms of baseball it will always be one of the more tragic. Prospects are supposed to flare out because they don't have the talent, can't make the adjustments, or don't put in the hours. They are not supposed to have their ability to play the game robbed by a cavernous malformation of the brain. And as we watch this new group of prospects--Will Middlebrooks, Junichi Tazawa, Jackie Bradley, Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes--take center stage, we will do so knowing that in another, fairer world, Ryan Westmoreland should have been leading the charge.
Hopefully, there is good news in that Westmoreland's substantial signing bonus will be enough to see him through his recovery and into the next stage of his life, whatever that may be. But it's still an all-too-cruel hand that fate has dealt the man we once named Manifest Destiny.