First, a deep and profound thank you to all the people who took the time to wish me good luck and stay strong via email, tweet, or blog comment. Things like that make me feel like my primary goal of somehow, someway becoming more than just another uniform occupant during my time in this game were met. As I’ve always said, baseball is tool with which a player can do many great things, chief of which is impacting lives around him for the positive. Your encouraging and supportive sentiments make me feel like I’ve done that, even from the minor leagues.
Second, let me extend my profound thank you to the Rays organization for not only giving me the opportunity to play ball following a full year off due to surgery, but for giving me the chance to do it with one of baseball’s most dynamic clubs in the game. The Rays are an extremely classy organization, and it was a pleasure to be a part of it. People ask, “how do the Rays develop such fantastic, competitive talent with such a limited budget in baseball’s vicious AL East?” Well, the answer is simple really: it is full of intelligent, capable people who go above and beyond; including coaches, staffers, and front office personal. This is to say nothing of the players themselves, who are as gifted as any I’ve ever had the pleasure of calling teammate. If I were you, reader, I’d expect great things from the Rays in the future. From top to bottom, they are chalked full of extraordinary talent, on and off the field.
Third, I’d like the reader to know that while getting released is not the best thing that’s ever happened to me, it’s not the worst. Baseball is a wonderful game, but a merciless business. A player at the professional level knows a release can come at any time, and at least I had the luxury of knowing it could possibly happen—after all, a garden variety, right handed pitcher can only spend so many days on the DL in the minors without making his employers wonder what they’re paying him for (certainly not to write blog entries). I’m thankful I have my health during this departure, and that I can pitch again if my services are called upon.
Beyond my specific circumstances, the end of a career can come for anyone. I take comfort in the fact that I’ve got several excellent back up plans should another team not come calling. When life shuts one door, it often opens others, and while I don’t know which door I’ll walk through from here, the real tragedy of this experience would be to sit and pout and not move forward with confidence and purpose. I’ll be okay because, if nothing else, baseball has taught me to pick myself up quickly after a bad outing, even if my next appearance isn’t on a baseball field.