FORT MYERS, Fla — When Mitch Moreland made his big league debut in 2010, the Rangers’ clubhouse was filled with players who had been in the majors for at least 10 years. Grizzled veterans like Darren Oliver, Vladimir Guerrero, Bengie Molina and Michael Young set the tone for a young Moreland, who first reached the majors at age 24.

A decade later, Moreland finds himself on the other side of the spectrum. Now 34, he’s the oldest player on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster (not counting the injured Dustin Pedroia) and has the most big league service time of anyone who will break camp with Boston.

For Moreland, being Boston’s elder statesman is an honor. But it also means facing the reality that he’s getting toward the end of his career.

“Mixed feelings on it,” Moreland said. “Fortunate and happy I’m still getting the opportunity to go out and play. Definitely… I feel the difference, too, when I’m out there. My body doesn’t recover like it used to.”

Moreland, who was limited to just 91 games last season due to back and quad injuries, will reach 10 years in the majors this season, assuming he remains on the roster for the entire year. For a former 17th-round pick who almost converted to pitching after one minor league season, the accomplishment is an unlikely one.

“I think it’s one of those benchmark spots,” Moreland said. “When I started playing, my goal wasn’t to get 10 years. I think there’s stuff that overshadows that. It’s definitely something that’s a cool accomplishment when you look at it, probably when you’re done. Not a whole lot of guys have had that opportunity. I’ve been fortunate.”


Two former Sox pitchers – Rick Porcello and David Price – hit the 10-year mark last year and were honored with clubhouse celebrations. Those types of festivities are commonplace throughout baseball, where players recognize the tangible impact of the milestone while also showing an appreciation for the on-field accomplishments it represents.

Any player with 10 years has his pension plan fully vest, locking in a yearly salary in retirement that’s usually worth six figures once the player turns 62. With free agency being unkind to aging veterans in recent years, fewer and fewer players are reaching the plateau.

“It seems like in this game, it’s getting harder and harder,” Moreland said.

Moreland has taken three spins on the free agent carousel in the last four years, ending up in Boston all three times. His latest turn was slow-developing until the Red Sox called with a $3 million offer in late January and tacked on a club option for 2021.

Though Moreland seems to be in the twilight of his career, he’s not setting a timeline for when he plans to retire. In 2020, he’ll shift into more of a complementary role, splitting time with Michael Chavis at first.

“I love playing this game,” Moreland said. “It’s all I know. I’m going to keep doing it as long as I can, and Lord-willing, keep getting opportunities. See what happens and let it play out.”


Moreland’s teammates believe he’d be a good coach or manager someday, but he’s not yet sure what his retired life will look like. The Mississippi native enjoys hunting and fishing and has three kids – two sons and a daughter – whose ages range from 2 to 7.

“Maybe one day down the road,” Moreland said. “But I’ve got three kids at home and I want to see them play a little bit too along the way, eventually.”

Until the calls from interested teams stop coming, Moreland will enjoy playing the game he loves. And at some point late this season, his teammates will get the chance to celebrate an important moment in an impressive career.

“I’ve been fortunate to be on some good teams and play for a while,” he said. “As you do that, you realize 10 years is tough to get. The fact that I have that opportunity is pretty special.”


The Red Sox had their first split squad games of Spring Training, losing to the Minnesota Twins, 3-2, and finishing in a tie with the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-2.

Andrew Benintendi hit a lead off home run against the Twins, but the Red Sox did not score again until the ninth inning. Nathan Eovaldi pitched two scoreless innings for Boston, allowing two hits and striking out four.

Catcher Kevin Plawecki had an RBI single in the first inning against Tampa Bay. Tanner Houck started for the Red Sox, allowing one hit, while walking two and striking out one in two innings.

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