The afternoon is fading, and he is standing in the lobby of a salesman’s hotel in Cleveland Circle in Brookline. He looks like any other kid in a gray sweat suit, but you notice upon meeting him that the left side of his face has kind of a slide to it and that his speech is just a bit waterlogged. Ryan Westmoreland has come up to Boston to have those particular problems looked over at Massachusetts General Hospital. He left only this morning from the Red Sox spring training facility in Fort Myers, Florida. He did his workout, and his stretching, and his hitting, and his weight lifting, and all the other things that baseball players do every day to get ready for the season. Then he went in and did all the things he does that most baseball players don’t have to do, because these things are part of his life now.
A year ago, when he got to Fort Myers, Ryan Westmoreland was known to most people as the most promising young baseball player in the Red Sox farm system. Two years removed from Portsmouth High School in Rhode Island, where he had been a pitcher, outfielder, and infielder, Ryan was judged by Baseball America, the acknowledged bible of such things, as “a potential 30-30 player” (they mean home runs and stolen bases) who might one day bat third in the Boston lineup. He was an enormously gifted baseball talent. To thousands of people, he was a line of pretty statistics and an amorphous figure of rosy promise. It was entirely possible that he could have spent his entire life as that, living comfortably with the “Ryan Westmoreland” that his growing fame and burgeoning talent were building for him.