By David Scott
Boston Sports Media Watch

NESN led off its Wednesday night broadcast with confirmation of Jerry Remy’s lung cancer, a rumor that had been circulating in Boston media circles for several weeks. Remy apparently had surgery “late last year” and is now experiencing setbacks in his recovery. Remy missed portions of spring training and the regular season and has been out of commission since the weekend series in Tampa.

. . . Remy had this brief comment at his Twitter page. Ken Fang is also all over the developing story.

More to come.

Here is Jerry Remy’s statement posted at Sawxheads.com on Wednesday night. The comments sections is filling rapidly. [Remy has a partnership with sawxheads' parent company, TruMedia Networks, and sits on its board of directors, according to this article. Membership has its privileges, we suppose.]

Personal Update from The RemDawg
May 6, 2009

In November I had a very small, low-grade cancerous area removed from my lung. I was fortunate that it was discovered at an early stage. Except for the surgery, I required no additional treatments. I left the hospital with a clean bill of health.

Unfortunately, following the surgery, I developed a bad infection further compounded by a case of pneumonia. It was the pneumonia and the infection that set me back. This all happened just as I was leaving for spring training.

In hindsight, it was a mistake to go and I am paying the price for it now. As NESN announced, I am taking a leave of absence so that I can fully recover.

First of all, I would like to thank all of you for the outpouring of concern you have given me recently. I honestly appreciate it. Secondly, I want to emphasize that I am in good shape now.

While physically I have no issues, the past few months have been emotionally draining, and exhausting for both my family and I. Along those lines, I would like to thank NESN and the Red Sox for allowing me to take as much time as I need. I am not certain exactly when I will return, but I will keep you posted. I want to make sure that when I do return I can be with the team all the way to the 2009 World Series!

I hope that by stating all this publicly it will emphasize the dangers of smoking to everyone, especially children. So, once again, I appreciate all your support and I would like to emphasize – if you don’t smoke, don’t start, and if you do smoke, try to quit! I don’t say that lightly because I know how difficult it can be.

Thanks,
Jerry

Contents of the NESN release that was posted at 6:59 p.m., just prior to the game’s start:

BOSTON, MA – NESN announced today that Red Sox color commentator Jerry Remy will take a leave of absence for an indefinite period of time so that he can fully recover from the effects of cancer surgery.

“I want to focus on completing my recovery so that I can return to work without distractions or interruptions,” said Remy, adding that he had hoped for a more immediate return but experienced a setback due to an infection and subsequent case of pneumonia.

Remy, a former smoker who underwent surgery for lung cancer late last year, said he hopes his experience will serve as a cautionary tale about the adverse health effects of smoking. “I hope that disclosing my bout with cancer will reinforce the dangers of smoking to every member of Red Sox Nation, especially children,” said Remy, who joined the network in 1988 and has teamed with play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo since 2001.

“Jerry is beloved, and on behalf of everyone in Red Sox Nation, I want him to know that he is in our thoughts. We will sorely miss him in the broadcast, but the most important thing is that he takes all the time he needs to recover,” said Sox chairman Tom Werner.

“As part of the NESN family, we want Jerry to concentrate on his health and getting well. When he’s ready to return, his place in the booth will be waiting for him,” said NESN president Sean McGrail. “In the meantime, we ask everyone to respect Jerry’s privacy so that he can focus fully on his recovery.”

Red Sox studio analyst and Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley will join Don Orsillo in the booth during the remainder of the team’s current home stand that ends May 8. Studio analyst Dave Roberts, the former Red Sox outfielder and post-season hero, will provide color commentary during the team’s subsequent West Coast road trip that ends May 17. No decision has been made yet about who will join Orsillo in the booth beyond that date.

SHOT’S INSTANT ANALYSIS, 7:20 p.m. Wednesday:

First and foremost, our best wishes to the Remdawg as he battles back.

The news of Remy’s illness may come as a public shock, but many in and around the Red Sox organization have been speculating quietly about the reason for his absences. Shots was able to confirm the illness earlier this week but decided to hold off on the story out of respect to Remy and his family.

There had even been some industry hub-bub that the recent Boston Globe Magazine Neil Swidey cover profile on Remy was softened in deference to the popular analysts and Sox Pop Culture icon. That would certainly explain why Swidey almost completely avoided any of the anti-Remy sentiment, referring only to one anonymous message board poster’s criticism of Remy’s salesmanship. More likely, Swidey was blinded by his “homeboy’s” rise to stardom and inadequately equipped to offer the complete and total view of Remy. (He did mention Remy had stopped smoking, but went no further along those lines. More likely than not, Swidey knew of Remy’s surgery and his battle but for whatever reason(s), glossed over the issue. Tough call on that one for the writer and the Mag’s editors, I’m guessing.)

With Remy gone from the booth, it will inevitably grow his legion of supporters – and not just out of sympathy for his medical battle. So far, in relief work, Dennis Eckersley has been simply brutal. Eck is clearly better suited at the desk as an analyst. Dave Roberts has shown hints of promise, the Tony Mazz audition wasn’t spectacular and Buck Martinez was likely a stopgap move. Regardless, the bottom line is NESN will be too thrifty to fill the big shoes of Remy with a competent replacement.

The focus for now, rightly so, will be on Remy and his health. But it will be interesting to see who – or how many – analysts Don Orsillo is forced to break in and carry.

• Shots is currently in Final edits on his forthcoming book, but the Remy news is too big to overlook. Our return date is still up in the air as several real-world projects are filling our days and nights. Thanks again for all your support and patience.

• Best question asked by a loyal reader during my absence: “Can Dan Shaughnessy write any column without a Red Sox reference? Just wondering.”

. . . Better yet, how many of his readers had any clue who Thurston Howell III was?

Not all the resulting news of the Globe’s stay of execution is good folks. We still have Shaughnessy’s lame act.

And where on earth is Basketball Bob during a double playoff run? Sure would be nice if Joe Sullivan communicated with his readers once in a while, wouldn’t it?

David Scott writes from a seaside shanty on the shores of Hull, Mass. and can be reached at shotsATbostonsportsmediaDOTcom.

Scott’s first book, with Kentucky Coach John Calipari, is scheduled for release in September of 2009 and is now available for pre-order.