If a strikeout for the final out in game one of the World Series is the last time we see Gibsons' Ryan Dempster pitch in the Major Leagues, then what a way to go out.
In a bit of a shocking announcement, especially to his Red Sox teammates, made during a press conference on Sunday morning at the Red Sox spring training complex in Fort Myers, Fla., Dempster announced he would not pitch in 2014, citing personal reasons and a desire to spend more time with his family.
"After a long off season and thinking about things and seeing where I was at both physically and personally, I just made the decision that I'm not going to pitch in the 2014 season and go from there," Dempster said in an interview posted on MLB.com. "I had an incredible run, a chance to play 16 years in the Major Leagues and be around a lot of great teammates, made a lot of good friendships, a lot of great memories, but I just feel that given where I'm at with my health, with how I feel personally, I feel it's in the best interest of both myself and the organization as a team to not play this year."
The announcement came on the same day that all Red Sox pitchers and catchers were at the facility undergoing physicals one day ahead of the team's first official workout of the spring.
Dempster said health issues with his neck have made it harder to pitch as effectively as he would have liked. He said he could have decided to pitch through the injury, maybe even spending some time on the disabled list this season, but felt in the end that would not be fair to him or to the Red Sox organization.
"I need to address those issues and get better physically," Dempster said. "Could I take shots and work through therapy and get myself back into a better position? Sure, but I didn't want to go through a year of battling through this. The best thing to do is to step away and see where life takes me."
Dempster said he was not announcing his formal retirement yet, saying he wanted to deal with talk of that after 2014.
"Just want to say thank you to everyone for all their support over the years," he said on a Facebook posting on his charity foundation website. "Hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did. I have appreciated everything along the way, so thank you again from the bottom of my heart."
Dempster, who turns 37 in May, was 8-9 with a 4.57 ERA in 32 games (29 starts) last season with the Red Sox, who won the World Series in six games over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Dempster has gone 132-133 with 87 saves and posted a 4.35 career ERA in 579 games (351 starts) over 16 years for the Florida Marlins, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and Red Sox.
-With files from MLB.com
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