Though the Tampa Bay Rays have shed their title as the AL East Punching Bag, there is one truth that remains; they are a destination for a number of players who are trying to revitalize their career, are having a second wind, or they’re on the decline with a little bit of usefulness left. Gabe Kapler falls in the second category, as he came out of a premature retirement first with the Milwaukee Brewers before continuing on with the Tampa Bay Rays for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
Before Kapler became a platoon player, he had one final season playing in more than 130 games. It happened to be the most historic season in Boston Red Sox history. Kapler arrived in Boston in the summer of 2003 in dramatic fashion, going 7 for 9 in his first 2 games with 2 homers. He went on to hit .291 down the stretch with the Sox. When regular right fielder Trot Nixon went down with injury in 2004, Kapler slid into his spot with ease by hitting .272 in 136 games. Trot returned at the end of the season and took over the role of playing right field. Nixon’s .357 average in World Series was a clear indication that the move was the right one.
Kapler stayed with the Red Sox in a limited capacity for two more seasons before taking a stab at managing in the minor leagues. The itch to play pushed him to sign with the Brewers and later the Rays. Kapler’s veteran status and ability wasn’t enough to bring the Rays back to the World Series, though. The Rays continue to search for the help that will bring them back, but haven’t found the right mix yet.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, are hoping Tim Wakefield can make tonight a Perfect 10 for the Red Sox, riding high since June 2nd.