Another one of The 25 is back in the Red Sox organization, as Boston has hired former 2004 World Series closer Keith Foulke to be a player development consultant. Peter Abraham tweeted the news earlier on Thursday, announcing that Foulke had arrived at camp and was set to work with minor-league pitchers.
Foulke was phenomenal for the Red Sox in 2004, posting a 2.17 ERA -- at the time, when offense was still absurd compared to now, that was good for a 223 ERA+ -- while saving 32 games in 83 innings. He wasn't your traditional one-inning closer, as Foulke averaged 83 innings and just 58 games finished per year during his five seasons as a full-time stopper.
This kind of workload would eventually be his undoing, as Foulke threw 14 innings in 11 postseason games in 2004 while dealing with knee issues, but it helped lead to Boston's first World Series championship in 86 years. And, as Foulke has told it, pitching so often helped him deal with personal problems he had going on at the time, as well.
Foulke's career would fall apart after he refused the recommendation of Boston's team medical director, Tom Gill, to have surgery on both of those knees the following spring. Foulke even says as much, stating that, "not getting my knees fixed in spring training was by far the dumbest, stupidest thing I did. It was kind of like selfish to me. I screwed me."
The former unstoppable closer would only throw another 126 innings in the majors, few of them great, but at least he won a World Series while he was in his prime.
Now, he gets a chance to teach, to help young players become the kind of success he once was, to teach them to listen when it matters, especially when it comes to health. It's not a second chance at a playing career, but it is a second chance to work within the game and for the organization who he's already helped so much, and that's something worthwhile for both Foulke and the Red Sox.
Foulke joins Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek as other members of the 2004 team who have worked for the organization in a front office or development role. Varitek and Martinez are Assistants to the General Manager, and were hired in that role in 2012 and 2013, respectively, to help out then-GM Ben Cherington.