Red Sox old friends whose futures are taking a different path

While the Red Sox fans, media, and players enjoyed a successful postseason other items involving former Red Sox players surfaced.  Here are four notable ones.

The season has concluded with all the success Red Sox fans could visualize. The resulting World Series championship will create a new generation of heroes to immortalize as the years go by, but a former hero of note is on the verge of packing it in regarding his career. Koji Uehara is the most notable of Red Sox players or former players to make some baseball headlines.

Koji was a savior for the 2013 season with 21 saves and this is no error – a 0.565 WHIP. Uehara also had a remarkable 1.1 BB/9 and 4.0 H/9.  Uehara played four seasons for the Red Sox with 60 saves before signing with the Chicago Cubs for the 2017 season.

Koji pitched in 2018 for the Yomiuri Giants – his only team in his Japanese career – going 0-5 with a 3.63 ERA for the legendary Japan Central League team. The 43-year-old righty also retires with a combined JPL and MLB statistic of at least 100 wins, saves, and holds.

A former first-round draft pick (2008) of the Red Sox was recently released by the Giants.  Right-hand pitcher Casey Kelly offered a bit of a dilemma for the Red Sox when he was drafted – position player or pitcher?

In Kelly’s first minor league season bat won out over the mound, but Kelly hit just .215 in the low minors (RK/A-) before taking on a dual role in 2009. That season the bat was silent (.212), but the mound was not as Kelly went 7-5 as a starter.

The promising Kelly was traded to San Diego as part of the Adrian Gonzalez deal and in 2012 made his debut on the mound for the Padres (2-3, 6.08) only to have Tommy John Surgery. Kelly spent time in the Atlanta organization before moving on to the Cubs and finally the Giants where Kelly finished 2018 with three losses in three starts.

In 2018 the Red Sox surprisingly released Hanley Ramirez and absorbed the remaining of his $22.75 MM salary. Despite his career record and minimal salary requirements there were no possible takers and Ramirez did not sign, but has recently announced he will participate in winter ball with the hope of re-establishing himself as an MLB player.

At 21-years-old Rocco Baldelli hit .289, stole 27 bases, hit 32 doubles, 11 home runs, and had 78 RBI. The rangy right-hand hitter played a superior defense in center field for the 2003 Tampa Bay Rays. The following season Baldelli hit .280 and was a rising MLB star and then it all crashed.

Baldelli – a Rhode Island native – had a rare muscle disease that caused extensive time on the DL and made any recovery from injury an long process, but there were a series of other debilitating injuries. Baldelli’s entire 2005 season was actually lost to the DL due to an ACL tear and when he was ready to return to the roster his elbow required Tommy John Surgery.

Baldelli played for the 2009 Red Sox and hit .253 with seven home runs in 62 games, but a shoulder injury left Baldelli off the postseason roster. Baldelli then returned to Tampa for his final season before retiring as a player, but not from baseball.

Since his retirement, Baldelli has worked in a variety of capacities with the final outcome being named manager of the 2019 Minnesota Twins.

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About Rick McNair

Born in Boston and have lived in the area all my life but not as a Red Sox fan. My first game was actually at Braves Field where I saw a very young Eddie Matthews hit a home run. The Braves left and I quickly switched loyalties. I enjoy discussing the Red Sox past and the connection of that past to the present. I will often bring in remembrances of that into posts. As a retired teacher I have the time to occasional travel to foreign baseball soil and love meeting up with other fans of RSN on the road. I am also a fan of the NY Football Giants (via NJ) - a dwindling breed in Massachusetts.
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