Former Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler is coming out of retirement and returning to the major leagues.
Kapler, an eight-year veteran who managed in Boston’s farm system in 2007, yesterday signed a one-year, $800,000, contract with the Milwaukee Brewers.
“My experience in Boston was amazing on so many levels,” Kapler wrote in an e-mail Thursday night. “My relationship with the city and the fans is and will always be special.” Kapler refuted the suggestion the Sox were not receptive to inviting him back as a player because he’d quit as a manager. “As far as the question about burning bridges, it could not be further from the truth,” he said. “My relationship with [Sox] baseball [operations] is stronger than ever.”
Kapler, 32, resumes his playing career after spending the 2007 season as the manager of the Greenville Drive, the Red Sox’ Class-A affiliate. The right-handed hitter has played nine major league seasons with the Tigers (1998-99), the Rangers (2000-02), the Rockies (2002-03) and the Red Sox (2003-06). Kapler has a .270 career batting average with 64 home runs and 302 RBIs in 850 games.
“Gabe brings versatility and athleticism to the outfield position,” Brewers GM Doug Melvin said. “He has always been a great teammate and possesses the determination to bounce back and become a valuable player to our club.”
Kapler was a member of three playoff teams in Boston (2003-05), including the 2004 World Series championship team. Kapler played in 72 games with the Red Sox in 2006, batting .254 with 2 home runs and 12 RBIs. Last season, Kapler managed Greenville to a 58-81 record, 14th in the 16-team South Atlantic league.
In September, Kapler announced his desire to play in the major leagues again in 2008.
“Managing was incredible for me this year,” Kapler said at the time of his decision. “I learned so much about baseball, about the young men I had an opportunity to lead, and about myself. Ultimately, the experience reawakened the competitor in me. I miss the battle. I still need to be on the field as a player.”
“My body is as healthy as it has ever been, and I must take advantage of that,” he said. “Managing was an important component of my development, and I am eternally grateful to the Red Sox for having provided me the opportunity to tackle a new challenge.”
Kapler also shared his thoughts and insights on the Red Sox throughout the 2007 playoffs in a Boston.com blog entitled “Kapler’s Corner.”
Material from the Globe’s Gordon Edes was used in this update.