Former Sea Dog Richie Lentz recently retired and was nice enough to answer a few questions for my blog. We wish Richie the best of luck in his new adventure – the real world!
MA: I can only imagine how tough it was to retire, when did you know
that you were a 100% sure?
RL: It is tough to accept the fact that baseball will no longer be my way of life, but it is something that I have been thinking about for the last 6 months. I had a season full of ups and downs, most being downs. That weighed on me a lot, but i got through it, and was very excited to get the offer to go to the AFL! My shoulder was killing me towards the end of the Fall League, and after my last outing i knew something was seriously wrong. Bottom line, I would need to have surgery to remove bone spurs from my shoulder, and i just don’t have enough love left for the game to go down that road at this point in my career. I’m thankful for what the game has given me, but very excited to begin the next chapter in my life!
MA: You had mentioned to me that your shoulder was on fire (I know not
literally), when did that start hurting?
RL: My shoulder was about 80% reason for retiring. It bothered me the whole year! After my first outing in Portland last spring was when it started. I can’t say that it ever fully went away, but we did take care of it, and my trainers did a great job of keeping it under control. In the fall league, I got that same pain only amplified… It’s extremely distracting to pitch with major discomfort, I found myself wondering if each pitch was going to hurt, and not focused on the importance of the pitch itself.
MA: A few years ago Chris Durbin (former Sea Dogs outfielder) retired and that was a surprise to many, similar to your retirement, but in the end, your future is more
important. What is next on the Richie Lentz agenda?
RL: Next on my agenda??? WHERE TO BEGIN hahaha. First and foremost I got a job with DexOne that I am extremely excited about! Moving into the corporate world has been a bit weird, but exciting as well! I am planning on beginning classes to finish my degree in the fall, I will have to peck away at that by taking night classes. Most importantly, I am excited to have a summer and take a couple vacations. Every baseball player lives their summers through there friend’s stories, and photos on facebook! To be honest with you Mike, I just want to jump off a boat into a lake; that’s something i havent been able to do since i was about 15!
MA. Take us through the retirement process, who did you talk to first and how
did you approach the Red Sox?
RL: First person I talked was my wife Kelli. She has been a ROCK for me my whole career, and one of the only people who “FULLY” understands what its like to live the life of a minor league pitcher. She lived with me through a chunk of my career. I talked to my family and friends from home. I spoke with players, guys I’ve played with that never had the opportunity to play pro ball, and guys who have played pro ball and left the game! I wanted to get a true feel for what was going to happen. It wasn’t a decision I made over night, lets just say that!
First person I called was my agent, he took the news great! He offered nothing but words of support, he didn’t encourage the decision… but supported “ME” in whatever i chose to do! I next called Ralph Truel (Red Sox Pitching Coordinator), he was taken back a bit… Though I don’t think he was happy to hear my news, he also handled it great. I can’t stress enough how thankful I am for the opportunity the Boston Red Sox gave me, and what a first class group of people they have that run the show!
MA: So you’re living in Portland, Oregon, be honest, you had to live
in one of the Portland’s?
RL: Both Portland’s have their strong points! I love Portland Maine because of the rich history, and the old town, down town feel! I love Portland Oregon because of the downtown! It has a huge feel, yet you can walk everywhere! There are more bridges than I can count, and a boat load of nature. The people here in Portland Oregon are so nice its sometimes uncomfortable haha. I love them both, but if i had to choose, i would say Portland Oregon strictly because of how close we are to my wife and I’s families.
MA: How is married life?
RL: Married life is great! I found a girl that was willing to commit to a guy like me… She must have a big heart huh? hahaha. Kelli is amazing, she has ridden the roller coaster that minor league baseball is with me! She has given up so much to be with me and has never once complained about not utilizing her degree and or youth in the business world! She has a great family, and she laughs at everything I say… I feel so lucky to have her!
People ask me daily how the married life is, and I have to say… It’s just like the dating life only better, you get more back rubs!
MA: Will you miss being around the guys more than the actual baseball?
RL: Mike, the “guys” is what baseball is… It’s what keeps you sane durring a 164 game season! The baseball is fun, but at the professional level the team game goes out the door, and individual development is what is important. I was blessed to have been drafted by the Red Sox and be with such a great group of guys. I already miss all my teamates, I talk to them often! I don’t miss what they are going through on a day to day basis, but I do miss them! The stories this game and those guys have given me are the most precious thing i will take with me into retirement!
MA: Tell us a few quick great memories of your baseball
career…doesn’t just have to be professionally
RL: My favorite on-the-field memory was winning a High School State championship! Also, getting a schollarship to play at the University of Washington, and being drafted by the Red Sox! Making the All Star team in High-A, and getting to pitch in that game was amazing!
Getting called up to AA was a major milestone and a day I will never forget! Being honored with the Rookie Development camp, and invited to play in the Arizona Fall League were also two things that I was flattered by! But Mike, again… Being in the bullpen daily with all the guys, that is what I will miss… Playing pranks on teammates, having fun with fans, signing autographs for kids, doing camps and charity events…. I will miss that. There is nothing like having a baseball uniform on, and a kid who is 5 years old come up to you, look you in the eyes and ask for you to sign his hat. It’s tough knowing that days like that are over.
MA:How about your favorite Portland, Maine story? Maybe the mustache
gang from last year?
RL: I have a ton of great stories from portland. The mustache crew was really fun though! Getting play with Daiskue, Smoltz, Ortiz, and Buchholtz was pretty cool. Having host family situations was great! I was fortunate enough to have two great host situations, I will leave there names out of this for their privacy… But I loved them! I met a boat load of people from Portland that I am really going to miss, and Kelli and I are already planning a trip back that direction for next year. I just got asked to be the Best Man for Ryne Lawson’s wedding! To answer your question… the mustache crew was my favorite “memory” from Portland. Also, I’m going to get under Blake Maxwell’s skin for saying this, but I definitely had the best mustache!
MA: You’re a big tech guy, the Apple iPhone or Google’s new Nexus phone?
RL: I’m glad that I will be remembered for more than just a pitcher, and honored that you would think of me as a tech guy haha. iPhone, there have just been to many attempts to be iPhone’s competition, and all have failed miserably!
MA: From myself, the fans and the entire Portland Sea Dogs
organization, we appreciate everything you did for us and Ienjoyed our
pre-game interviews on the radio network.
RL: Mike I feel the need to say a few things if you don’t mind! I want to say thank you again to you, Craig Candage Sr, Bob the bus driver and all of our bat boys in Portland. All of you endure the same season we do as players, and none of you get enough praise, so thank you! Also, again thank you to the Red Sox for the opportunity they gave me, I feel i have grown tremendously over the past few years, and I have to give them all the praise in the world for the way they run this organization! Last, the Westmoreland Family opened there home to me for two summers durring college summer ball. They are truly my second family and i love them all! I was pretty shook to hear about Ryan, and I want to say to them that they have a ton of prayers coming their way from My family and I!!! Good luck in your Recovery Ryan, I’m pulling for you bud!
Mike, thanks again… Go SeaDogs!