Jim Kaat offers Sox words of wisdom

February, 28, 2012
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Boston Red Sox had a special guest at camp the last two days -- Jim Kaat.

Kaat, 73, played a remarkable 25 years in the majors -- for the Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals.

For the last two days, he wore a Red Sox T-shirt and shorts. When asked if it felt weird to wear Boston colors, Kaat said: “Not really. I think any time you’re wearing any kind of a big-league shirt you feel pretty honored.”

That was part of his message to the Red Sox players.

Red Sox senior advisor Jeremy Kapstein was thrilled Kaat was able to speak with the players, especially the minor-leaguers. Kapstein said he hopes all the young players maximize Kaat’s advice, saying: “Today only happens once.”

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was especially pleased Kaat attended camp. “You can’t teach experience,” Valentine said. “The amount of experience that Jim has, you can gain wisdom from it if people are willing to listen.”

Valentine said he did not attend the two sessions Kaat had with the players.

Kaat, who still looks like he could pitch in the big leagues, spoke briefly with the Boston media Tuesday morning in the Red Sox clubhouse. He was asked to explain the difference between the players of his era and today’s players.

“They’re bigger, stronger, faster and the game is geared more toward power,” Kaat said. “I’ll give you an example: If Pete Rose went to a tryout camp today, he probably wouldn’t get signed. He couldn’t run, didn’t have a strong arm, didn’t have any power, but he was a great baseball player. He had the baseball skills that were necessary to make up for the fact that he didn’t have those things. The guys today can get by on so much of their natural ability, they don’t need those subtle skills.”

Joe McDonald

ESPN Staff Writer



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