CLEARWATER, Fla. -- As soon as the ball ricocheted off his body during the first plate appearance of his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday, Red Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin knew he would hear all about it after his day was finished."I thought about that when I got hit," Quentin quipped,
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- As soon as the ball ricocheted off his body during the first plate appearance of his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday, Red Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin knew he would hear all about it after his day was finished.
"I thought about that when I got hit," Quentin quipped, cracking a smile. "It was kind of funny."
Call it a "hit" start to what the 34-year-old former All-Star hopes is a successful comeback attempt.
Quentin, who has not played in the big leagues since 2014 with the Padres because of persistent knee issues, is in Red Sox camp this spring after signing a Minor League deal with the team last month.
Looking noticeably slimmer while wearing No. 18, the veteran Quentin started in left field in Boston's 6-5 loss to the Phillies at Spectrum Field. He collected a sixth-inning single off Philadelphia reliever Ben Lively and struck out in three at-bats.
It's a far stretch from where he was eight months ago, when he nearly gave up the game for good.
After several right knee surgeries and a fracture in his left, Quentin admitted his body "felt like it failed me." Just trying to feel good in everyday life, he took on a new dietary plan from good friend and former San Diego teammate John Baker, and shed 40 pounds.
It ended up changing his mind entirely.
"It didn't force me, but it made me not want to regret anything," Quentin said. "I've played this game a long time, and as a person, you just want to make sure you've done everything you can."
Red Sox manager John Farrell called the prospect of having a seasoned professional like Quentin around an "interesting possibility."
"When … there's this thought that a player is looking to take one last run at it, I think when a player gets to that point, there's no telling what can take place," Farrell said.
Quentin is still getting a feel for things, understandably. But with some additional at-bats once Minor League camp commences to get his timing right, he trusts that he can return to a version of his former self.
"When you feel like you have to hang it up, because you don't feel healthy and you don't see the opportunity there, it's a tough pill to swallow," he said. "Especially when you feel like you pride yourself on working hard and keeping yourself in decent shape.
"That's a lot of the reason why I'm back here. I didn't want to look back five years from now and say, 'Man, I should have just picked up the phone and made a call, and swallowed some ego and pride, and just do it the right way.'"
Jeff Odom is a contributor to MLB.com.