Remy gets the call for tomorrow

By Chad Finn
Globe Staff / August 20, 2009

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Jerry Remy, the popular color analyst on NESN’s Red Sox telecasts, will return to the booth tomorrow when the club begins a series against the Yankees at Fenway Park. Remy has been on an extended leave of absence since early May as he recuperates from the effects of lung cancer surgery.

Remy, 56, will ease back into his role alongside play-by-play voice Don Orsillo. For the time being, he will work on a part-time basis in the position he has held since joining NESN in 1988.

“I’m anxious right now just thinking about it,’’ Remy told NESN’s Tom Caron before last night’s game. “But I’m sure once you get back into the swing of things, after an inning or so it will be just like old times, and we’ll have hopefully a good game and a little bit of fun.’’

Former Red Sox players Dennis Eckersley and Dave Roberts, who were among the 26 fill-ins NESN used in Remy’s absence, will continue to pinch hit for Remy in the booth while also contributing analysis to NESN’s pregame and postgame studio programming.

Last November, Remy, a longtime smoker, had surgery to remove what was described as a “very small, low-grade cancerous area’’ from a lung, the knowledge of which first became public May 6, the day he announced his leave of absence.

But concerns about the former Sox second baseman’s health were raised as early as spring training, when his arrival was delayed by what was later revealed to be a bout of pneumonia.

He also suffered an infection shortly after the surgery, and it became clear to Remy as the first few weeks of the season passed that he was neither physically nor mentally ready for the grind.

He has not broadcast a Red Sox game since May 30 in Tampa Bay, an absence of 91 games through last night, and the private Remy remained out of the public eye during his recovery. But last Wednesday, he made his first visit to watch a game at the ballpark since taking leave, receiving a standing ovation from the Fenway crowd when he visited the NESN booth in the second inning.

During a meeting with the media that night, he spoke openly about his battle with depression that delayed his return and said he is receiving therapy.

“I’m glad I did it [return to Fenway last week] because it really kind of gets that out of the way and when I do come back on Friday to do a game, it’s just a normal day,’’ Remy said last night.

“The Yankees being in town, obviously that’s a little bit different, but to get all this personal stuff out of the way I think was a great thing for me last week.

“But it is a little bit uncomfortable. You know I’m not a player, I’m just a broadcaster. To have that much attention put on you, it means people care about you.’’

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