FORT MYERS, Fla. – He landed here Friday evening after a long cross country trip from his Arizona home where he left behind his four children, who less than a year ago lost their mother, Gabrielle, to a drug overdose.
Not a day goes by when new Sox reliever Scott Schoeneweis doesn’t carry the remnants of such a shocking event that impacted his children and his own life forever.
“What I found out about the last 10 months though is how much I love being a baseball player and how much I want that to continue. The kids and I miss her everyday. I know she would want us to continue with our lives and with what we’re doing and I just found that baseball is still very much of who I am. I have an 8-year-old son who loves coming to the ballpark and tagging along with me. I know how much that means to him.
“I just believe I have a lot of baseball left in me. The last few years have been difficult, but I’ve come to the realization that I’m not too old, I still have skills, I’m still good enough to help a team out of the bullpen. I feel I have a lot of baseball left in me and I hope to come in here tomorrow and show the Red Sox I can make this team,” Schoeneweis said.
The Shoeneweis story is one of incredible determination and courage.
While playing for Chatham in the Cape Cod League while at Duke University he found out he had testicular cancer and went through the tough surgery and chemotherapy which sapped his strength and where he lost his hair. He also underwent Tommy John surgery, was named in the Mitchell Report, dealt with the tragic loss of his wife, who was found unresponsive by one of the three daughters on the evening of May 20, 2009. Schoeneweis was then placed on the disabled list by the Arizona Diamondbacks for depression.
Over the last 10 months since the death, Schoeneweis has been trying to piece together his family life, create some stability for his children, trying to find answers. He says he has the support system of his parents who live near his Arizona home and a nanny who has cared for the children and who care about her.
“I’m in a great place now, better than I’ve been in some time,” Schoeneweis said. “The support system around us is terrific. I feel I can come to Florida and know the kids are OK and taken care of. Next week they’re coming to visit and we’ll go to the beach and be together again. But when I get in there tomorrow I’ll sit down and map something out with John Farrell and Terry Francona. Everyone has been good to me and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and getting to know them.
“I’ve always wanted to play for the Red Sox so when this opportunity presented itself I jumped at it. Milwaukee gave me a chance to come into camp and show people I can still pitch. I felt great out there, but the situation was they just didn’t have room for me,” Schoeneweis said.
Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson, who had coached Schoeneweis in New York with the Mets, said he phoned John Farrell and recommended Schoeneweis if the Sox had a need for a lefty to get lefties out. With seven starting pitchers, it was going to be tough for Schoeneweis to make the Brewers because two of the pitchers have to go to the bullpen. Schoeneweis said he wanted to go to camp with the Brewers because they trained in Arizona and he’d get to be close to his children. That was working fine until his release.
“Scotty has always been able to get lefties out. He got all of them out in spring training. I thought he was throwing the ball almost as well as did in New York with us,” Peterson said. “He can help a team, no doubt about it.”
From 2003-2007, Schoeneweis allowed only one homer to lefthanded batters.
Schoeneweis, who watched his first major league game at Fenway and whose grandparents came from Fall River, has never been awed by pitching at Fenway where he’s held lefties to a .168 average in more than 31 innings of work there.
The Sox had signed Alan Embree last week, but Embree had not been in a camp and appears to be behind. Schoeneweis should be able to pick up where he left off in Milwaukee where his velocity was around 87-89, but nasty vs. lefthanded hitters.