Chris Sale opens up
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Perhaps it was fitting that he said the words for the first time while wearing a Red Sox uniform.
"I’m retired," Mitch Moreland told WEEI.com while standing on the CoolToday Park field just prior to the Sox' spring training game with the Braves Tuesday night. "There you go. I’m done. I’m done playing. I’ve enjoyed the family life too much in the last year and a half. Being there for my kids. It got to the point where they were away from me during the season and in school. I wanted to be there for them, and be around the family more."
While Moreland hasn't officially filed his retirement papers, he knew it was time. The 37-year-old hadn't played a major league game since Aug. 26, 2021, having spent all of last season waiting for a call that never came.
Moreland has immersed himself in spending time with his family, even recently running a half-marathon. And then came the opportunity to spend a few days with the Red Sox at the behest of Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom and manager Alex Cora.
If there was any doubt about turning the page, living the spring training life as mentor for some of these Red Sox put those to rest. It was time for the playing days punctuation.
"When I really didn’t get anybody knocking on the door last year, I said, ‘That’s probably it.’ I didn’t really see a need in telling anybody else," Moreland admitted.
Roaming the back fields of Fenway South Tuesday afternoon before assisting in the Sox' dugout for their win over the Braves, Moreland seamlessly fit in. With fellow former Red Sox stalwart Mike Lowell also adding a few days of education to Cora's current group, Moreland was able to get a taste of what might be his next chapter.
"I had a couple conversations with AC, Chaim in the offseason. It’s kind of been in the works," he said. "They asked me if I would be interested in coming into camp for a few days, being around the guys, and just kind of take it in and see this side of it a little bit too. I thought it was a great opportunity. I obviously loved my time here, loved the group. It was great to see everybody. I jumped on the opportunity, and happy to be here.
"I knew I was going to like it. I was excited about the opportunity to come down and just to be around the guys, see some of the familiar faces that I hadn’t seen in a while. Just catch up, really. So I’ve talked to a few of the guys, met some new people, and just trying to enjoy my time while I’m here."
Cora obviously understood the importance of Moreland's presence, having had a front row seat of his impact during two of the first baseman's four seasons in Boston.
While the memory of Moreland will forever be highlighted by his historic pinch-hit home run in Game 4 of the 2018 World Series, the Mississippi native offered plenty of difference-making moments throughout what was a 12-year major league career.
When it was all said and done the lefty slugger hit 186 homers while finishing with a career .764 OPS, winning an American League Gold Glove in 2016 with the Rangers, while making the 2018 AL All-Star team as a member of the Red Sox.
Moreland played in 52 postseason games while participating in three World Series.
But now, Moreland is ready to make an impact in some other ways, starting with a few days with his old team.
"I’m here strictly to hang out with the guys, and if I can help someone along the way, and if anybody has any questions for me, I’d obviously be an open book for them," Moreland said. "Just catch up with old teammates and staff, and help any way I can."