Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster still isn’t closing the book on potentially returning to Major League Baseball. He’s not feeling the itch to pitch, either.
Dempster, who walked away during spring training from $13.25 million remaining on his contract for 2014, told the Chicago Tribune’s Luis Gomez on Saturday that he’s still at peace with his decision to not pitch this season. The 37-year-old opted to spend more time with his family, and he’s loving every minute of it.
“(You learn) just how fast kids grow up,” Dempster told Gomez of his time away from the game. “When you’re playing baseball, you’re gone for a week, and when you’re home, you’re busy the whole time. I got to chase my goals for a long time and now I get to watch my kids chase theirs.”
Dempster went 8-9 with a 4.57 ERA in 32 appearances (29 starts) with the Red Sox last season — his first and only season in Boston. The 16-year veteran returned to Fenway Park earlier this season to receive his World Series ring, which understandably stirred up some emotions, but he doesn’t feel like he’s missing too much despite occasionally thinking about the clubhouse camaraderie that comes with being a professional athlete.
“Fortunately, I haven’t missed it,” Dempster said. “Not yet. With the way things ended with the World Series, I don’t feel like I’m missing it. Hopefully, I don’t ever get that feeling.”
While it’s unclear whether Dempster ever will return to the diamond, he’s still very much a part of the game. Dempster has made several appearances on MLB Network as an analyst, which is a gig that allows his infectious personality to shine through.
“When you get the camera in front of you, you feel like you can say you know it all because you played it,” Dempster told Gomez. “But you have to stay humble and remind yourself how hard the game is to play. I approach it that way. My mentality has always been positive. I’m not the type to rip a guy. (Players) say I’m doing a good job. I don’t know if they’re blowing smoke up my dress.”
Dempster owns a 132-133 record and 4.35 ERA over his lengthy career. He earned two All-Star selections — with the Florida Marlins in 2000 and with the Chicago Cubs in 2008 — and always has been considered a true professional with a knack for developing strong bonds with teammates. The right-hander arrived in Boston in search of his first World Series ring, and he’s now ready to share the memento with anyone and everyone following a mission accomplished.
“I enjoy sharing it with people,” Dempster said. “It’s a great, special thing for me. I want them to get a feel for what it’s like and what it looks like. I don’t wear the ring every day, but I wear it a lot, like when I go out to a nice dinner.”
Perhaps Dempster someday will get the itch to return to baseball. He hasn’t yet, though, and life sounds good.