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Sox: Westmoreland surgery ‘successful’

03.16.10 at 7:50 pm ET

The Red Sox issued the following release about the surgical procedure performed on 19-year-old Ryan Westmoreland to remove a cavernous malformation in his brain:

“According to the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’€™s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ, Red Sox minor league outfielder Ryan Westmoreland today underwent successful surgery to remove a cavernous malformation in his brain. Dr. Robert Spetzler performed the surgery. The announcement was made by General Manager Theo Epstein. Following the five-hour procedure, Westmoreland remains in the intensive care unit but has come through the surgery well. Due to the complexity of this surgery, Ryan will face a difficult period initially before beginning his recovery.”

ESPN.com reported that it will be a few days before a prognosis for Westmoreland’s recovery will be available.

Even so, the initial report following the surgery was promising, given the potential for far worse outcomes. The procedure carried risks of either brain damage or, in some instances, death (according to ESPN.com’s reports).

Against those concerns, the Sox were treating the news as highly encouraging. Manager Terry Francona was contacted by GM Theo Epstein after the procedure, and the report the Sox skipper received was highly promising.

“It sounds like very encouraging news,” said Sox manager Terry Francona. “We’€™re obviously thrilled about that, and thankful.”

Yet even with the news that the surgery appears to have been a success, the idea that the 19-year-old faces a “difficult period” in his recovery could not be dismissed. Westmoreland’s teammates expressed caution in their assessments of the procedure, noting that the outcome will be measured not by a return to the baseball field, but instead by the Rhode Island native’s quality of life.

“I got a text from his good friend saying that surgery couldn’€™t have gone better,” said minor league first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who considers Westmoreland a good friend, and had sent the outfielder texts in recent days. “If everything was successful ‘€“ which it is ‘€“ it’€™s a long road back. … I don’€™t know what his process back will be, but it’€™s a long way back.”

While around his minor league teammates and before he was sent on a medical leave from the club on March 4, Westmoreland had remained in excellent spirits, even as he was dealing with the symptoms of his condition. The way in which he handled the situation further underscored to Westmoreland’s teammate that there are far greater concerns than the outfielder’s baseball future.

“He’€™s such an unbelievable person, on and off the field. He’€™s such a great talent. He deserves to live a great life. Hopefully he’€™ll come out of all of this in the best way,” said Sox prospect Ryan Kalish, who befriended Westmoreland this offseason. “It’€™s just a shame to see what’€™s happened. It’€™s uplifting that his surgery went well, but we’€™ll see where it goes.

“Really, it’€™s not about baseball right now. It’€™s about the quality of life. If he comes out of this and plays baseball, it will be an amazing story. But as long as he comes out of this, whatever he does, it will be a success.”

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