Ryan Westmoreland, the top Red Sox prospect who had surgery to repair a cavernous malformation in his brain in March, spoke to media this afternoon on a press conference, sounding upbeat about his progress, and emphasizing his desire to ultimately return to professional baseball.
“That’s always the mindset is I’m going to get back on the field and play again,” Westmoreland said. “And that’s the ultimate goal. You know every day, that doesn’t change and it never will. But doing things like going to see Portland play or Pawtucket play or the big league team play, it just gives you that extra motivation you need to want to get to that point.”
First, Westmoreland has to go through the monotony of therapy, the advances and setbacks that attend recovery from such a serious surgery. Though he has certainly had his good days and bad days, it was apparent from the call that the outfielder has done his best to remain positive.
“I feel a lot better,” he said. “If you asked me three months ago, the progress has been amazing. I heard from a bunch of doctors and the progress has been remarkable. I’m just excited to keep it going.”
But there is no timetable at this point in Westmoreland’s recovery.
“From the doctor’s point of view, not one of them has set a time-table as to when I’m going to get back to playing,” Westmoreland said. “I can think in my head, I’m really confident. And going to see the Portland games and the minor league games and the Boston games just gives me that extra motivation and confidence that I’m going to get back again but as far as the time-table, I’m not really sure. I’m just really focused on the next day ahead and just trying to get better every day.”
He said that his therapists have continued to set goals for him, most of which he has exceeded. That has been significant in his recovery, he said, the continual setting of goals and meeting of them.
Westmoreland also went over the initial diagnosis, the moment when he took the MRI, and it was revealed that he had the cavernous malformation.
“Initially, to be honest, I didn’t really know what was going on,” he said. “I knew it was a serious situation but before that situation, I felt great going into spring training, I felt really strong and when that news kind of hit, I didn’t honestly know what to expect and things kind of went on from there and I learned more, I gained more knowledge about the whole situation I was going through and it started out not knowing much and it really kind of went downhill just knowing everything and knowing all the risks and what was going on, but I tried to keep an even head about it and stay positive.”
For the Red Sox, this hasn’t been the first time that they have had to go through a serious medical situation over the past five years. They have seen Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo through cancer, both of them returning to the field, and the hope is that Westmoreland can follow them, though there are no guarantees.
“The thing that stands out from our end is just how proud we are of Ryan, the courage he’s shown, facing the initial diagnosis and the surgery, and the determination he’s shown in his recovery,” general manager Theo Epstein said. “It’s been really awe-inspiring. We got to know Ryan and his family pretty well during the signing process. We knew we were getting a great kid from a great family, we knew we were getting someone who could handle adversity, but the type of adversity we were thinking of was a long slump or something like that. You never imagine one of your players having to go through something like this.
“But every step of the way, he’s showed really incredible maturity and bravery. It was really interesting to see how the entire organization reacted like a family. You look at your players and you think of them as having bright futures, but then when something like this happens that’s life threatening, and you see how it impacts all of his teammates, all of his friends, all of the people in the organization who care for him on a personal level. it really makes you appreciate what we have in this organization as a family, and Ryan obviously is a big part of that family. So going through this with him was a pretty emotional thing for many people in the organization. We’re proud of him and with him and his family every step of the way. And we’ll be here for him when he’s ready to return to organized baseball.”