Popular Red Sox television analyst Jerry Remy attended manager Terry Francona’s press conference this afternoon and visited the NESN broadcast booth for an inning tonight. It was the first time Remy has been seen at Fenway Park for a game since his leave of absence because of complications following his recovery from lung cancer.
“I lost between 20-25 pounds. You saw me in spring training, you saw me at the beginning of the season. It was my fault, I wasn’t ready to start the season,” Remy said during his on-air visit with Don Orsillo and Dennis Eckersley at the top of the second inning. “It probably would have been wise to take a month off, and maybe come back and be OK after that. You saw the kind of decline happen in Cleveland early in the season where I started to slip into a depression really. I think everything came crashing down at one time. The cancer stuff, the infection. I wasn’t able to do my job. And basically for the last couple of months, I’ve been getting treatment for that.”
“I’m nervous, I’m nervous,” Remy replied when Orsillo asked him what it felt like being back in the broadcasting booth. “This is very different but it’s a nice step for me to be able to come back to the ballpark today… it’s been very therapeutic.”
Remy said for a while his condition was pretty bad, but his health has been improving. “With the therapy I’m getting, and the medications I’m getting, I’m back on the right track, and hopefully, hopefully be back soon to see the Red Sox into the playoffs.” Remy would not set a date for his return, saying that he’s missed a couple of deadlines already.
“I feel terrific, physically,” Remy said. “I’ve been going to the gym for the last couple of months and I’ve gained the weight back that I’ve lost.”
Remy also spoke to WCVB-TV (Ch. 5) sports director Mike Lynch before the game. Remy’s comments, in full, are below:
“Since last season, it was kind of weighing on my mind. I didn’t know what it was. I went into the cat scan with the understanding that at the end of the season they would have to take that out. Dr. Ronin saw a spot on my lung. He went in the week before Thanksgiving, they took that out. That couldn’t have gone better. There was no follow-up treatment. Cat scan after three month. No chemo. No radiation.
Then after that, I got hit with an infection, right at the end of January into spring training. I was back at mass general for 10 days. Three weeks of antibiotics. That was probably worse for me. It all started crashing down on me. I had therapy for that. I had lost 25 pounds. Looking back on it, it was probably my fault that I went to spring training. It was an easy schedule. I thought if I could get started, I could get going. But I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t strong enough. Emotionally, I wasn’t ready. Physically, I wasn’t ready.
So I started to crash. Probably in Cleveland. Don (Orisillo) saw the crash first hand. It wasn’t fair to Don to work one day, not work. It wasn’t fair to the company. It all finally came crashing down on me. I had been fighting depression the last couple of months. I got therapy for that. Trying to get my meds right. Physically I’m back. I got the weight back on that I’d lost because of the infections. And mentally, I think I’m on the right path. Doctors told me to expect that sort of thing. They’re kind of surprised I didn’t crash before I did. The cancer part, I couldn’t have been luckier thanks to Doctor Ronin at Mass General. They caught it very early. Things that happened after that…
I plan on coming back this year but I can’t put a date on it. I’ve already passed two deadlines of my own. As I said at the beginning, when I come back, I come back full time. I’ve got a date in mind, but I don’t want to say what it is because I’ve already missed a couple of my dates.
Look, people go through this stuff all the time. It’s been hard. There’s no way around it. It’s been very hard. Because you’re doing a job, it makes it twice as hard. I can’t watch the games. I watch the national games. But the home games I can’t watch. I’m supposed to be there. It makes me feel guilty. It breaks me down even more. I’m aware of what’s going on.
I’ll tell you something. Never in my wildest dreams… I have boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes of cards, letters, prayers, kindergarten schools’ letters, tweets, emails. I can’t believe. In a way, you feel like you’ve done something right for these people. It’s awfully nice. And there’s no way I can get back to them. If I get back on the air, that’s the way I’ll thank them. Overwhelming. Overwhelming.
It’s kind of like a trial run, I guess. I came in last week for the McCartney concert. I made it to that OK, so I thought maybe I’d get back to see some of the guys downstairs – see Tito, some of the players, sit in on his press conference. Simulate a game.
I’m anxious. I’m not going to lie; I feel a little nervous. I just want to get back to work. Get back in the role of what I do. The pressure thing, it’s tough. It’s not easy. You know that commercial on TV where that lady cranks herself up to get up in the morning? That’s the way it is. That’s basically what it’s been like in the last couple of months. I’ve been in the gym for the last two months, I put my weight back that I’d lost from the infection. Physically, I feel fine, but mentally, the other part is tough to deal with. It’s trial and error.
You try to keep busy. I’ve been doing a hell of a lot more reading than I’ve ever done. I’ll tell you that. My wife’s been special. My family has been special. They’ve done a lot.
I’m just going to tell them the reason I’m depressed is because I’ve had to listen to Orsillo. I don’t know what I’m going to say when I’m doing the game.
I’m not ashamed of anything. People deal with cancer all the time with depression. I’m not embarrassed by that. If there’s any way I can help anybody, you know, what the hell? I’m not immune to all that. I will say this: the last two years – they knew about it last year; they didn’t know I had cancer – it’s been a difficult time. It’s taken a lot out of me. The way I feel I’m going to get that back is I’m going back to doing what I do.
As President Obama says, “I have not been perfect.” But I’ve been pretty good (at quitting smoking). It’s very difficult. It’s a terrible addiction. I’m not going to preach to the choir. I would just ask that you never pick your first one up. Once you pick your first one up, you’re screwed. Those who don’t smoke out there, don’t do it.
This was life-threatening. You get your knee fixed, you get your knee scraped out. They know what it is, you get your back operated on, you know you’re coming back. This has been – the range of emotions you go through with all of this – it seems to hit you all at once.
On that road trip at the beginning of the season, I didn’t realize how weak I was. We go out to Anaheim. I went to bed, the next morning, I wake up, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. And I knew right then and there, I had tricked myself thinking I could try to do this. All the things together, it takes a lot out of you. When you physically get injured, you know you’re going to get better. It’s not life-threatening.
I didn’t know until 2:30 that I was coming when I was talking to my wife and I said, “You know…” It sounds crazy, but kind of a big step was coming to the McCartney concert. When I got back to the ballpark, I felt good. The better I feel, there would have to be a day where I had to come here. I looked at it today and I thought, “What are you doing? Get in there.” I was lying around.
Yeah, it was (spur of the moment). Like I said, I have a date in mind, but I wanted to get in here prior. I wouldn’t say I’m doing great, but I’m here, with a month to go.
The best medicine is your family.
I think (a smaller schedule) would be better. I think the initial idea is home games. And if they have a big trip on the road and I’m feeling up to it, I might be there for it.
As I said it’s been overwhelming. In a way, at first, it worked against me because it felt like I was letting people down. But I was crying reading them. My wife was reading them – I couldn’t read them – while I was on the couch. And she’d read them all to me. Tito’s emailed me a thousand times. It’s been very responsive.”
Boston.com’s Steve Silva and Chad Finn contributed to this report.