Popular Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler today announced his retirement, though he is going to stick with the organization.
The Red Sox named Kapler the manager of the Greenville Drive, the team’s Single-A team in South Carolina (which plays in the South Atlantic League). Kapler replaces Luis Alicea, who has joined the major league staff as first base and infield coach, as Greenville’s manager.
“I’m ecstatic to be entering into this managerial career and to be walking down this path kind of hand in hand with the Red Sox,” said Kapler in a conference call earlier today. “The opportunities they’ve given me thus far have been amazing and this is just kind of adding to the list.”
Kapler was asked if his rehab assignments in the minors over the years may have reinforced the idea of his wanting to be a manager. “Those rehab assignments, because I’ve had an opportunity to share experience with minor league guys as I went through that process and so certainly that had a huge impact on my decision making because I saw some of their faces,” said Kapler. “And I saw how much they were listening. And I saw how much they cared and the fact that they… I felt like I was having an impact, so that opened my eyes.”
“I have been thinking about this transition for many years, and believe this to be the right time,” said Kapler. “This will afford me the opportunity to make an impact in the lives of young men, not only to help them develop as baseball players, but also more importantly, as human beings. ”
“I had ample opportunity to continue my playing career, but feel that I can give so much more as a manager and a leader. I feel this decision will be extraordinarily fulfilling to me personally and professionally and look forward to tackling the challenges that lie ahead. I am ecstatic that the Red Sox, which I think is the best organization in baseball, believe in me enough to give me this opportunity.”
“The Red Sox are very pleased that Gabe Kapler has decided to stay in the organization as he begins his post-plating career,” commented Boston’s Director of Player Development Mike Hazen. “We feel that Gabe will be a big asset to the Red Sox as he works with some of the younger prospects in our system.”
Kapler appeared in 72 games for the Red Sox last season, batting .254 with two homers and 12 RBIs after recovering from a torn Achilles’ tendon. Kapler played a backup role for parts of each of the last four seasons in Boston.
Kapler, 31, was a backup for most of the latter part of his career and finished with a .270 batting average with 64 homers and 302 RBIs in 850 games.
Kapler, who also played with Detroit, Texas and Colorado, started the 2005 season in Japan playing for the Yomiuri Giants. They released him from his contract after he hit .153 in 38 games and he re-signed with the Red Sox on July 15. He played just 36 games for Boston that season before injuring his Achilles’ on Sept. 14 while rounding second base in Toronto.
He was activated by the Red Sox last June 16 and hit a three-run homer seven days later. But he had just 130 at bats for Boston all season, playing primarily as a backup in right field.
Kapler played seven games for Detroit in 1998 then started for the Tigers the next season before spending the next 2 1/2 seasons with Texas. He finished the 2002 season with Colorado then played 39 games for the Rockies in 2003 before they released him on June 20. He signed with Boston four days later as a minor league free agent.
His best season came in 2000 with Texas when he hit .302 with 14 homers and 66 RBIs.
Also today, the Red Sox announced the appointment of Arnie Beyeler as the manager of the team’s Double-A Portland Sea Dogs affiliate in the Eastern League. In addition, Chad Epperson will once again manage Boston’s high Single-A club, which moves to Lancaster in the California League, in 2007.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.