Sun. Dec 3rd, 2023

TROY — The Tri-City ValleyCats planned on holding a retirement party on Wednesday for infielder Keaton Weisz, who isn’t certain yet whether he’s actually done playing at only 25 years old.

Those plans were canceled when the game against the Washington Wild Things at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium was rained out and rescheduled as part of a doubleheader at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Weisz is supposed to fly to Austin, Texas, on Thursday to see his doctor and have an MRI exam on his aching right knee.

“It’s too bad,” Tri-City manager Pete Incaviglia said. “We were going to do something a little special for him out there today and put something on the (score) board and give him a standing O (ovation), his teammates and stuff like that, so it’s too bad we didn’t get that.”

Incaviglia was going to use the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Weisz, too hobbled to play effectively in the field, as a pinch-hitter late to get him into the game.

Weisz said his knee began really bothering him about a month ago when he tried to stretch a single into a double and couldn’t slide into second. He has moved from shortstop to second base because of his reduced mobility.

“It’s just hurting,” he said. “I can’t really get to full speed. Every time I run, it hurts and it’s just hard for me to play the game I’m used to playing, stealing bases and feeling athletic. I don’t feel athletic right now.”

While Incaviglia and Jonathan Weisz, the player’s father, described it as retirement, Keaton Weisz said he’s not quite ready to hang it up until he finds out the severity of the injury. He said he had leg issues when he was younger.

“I just kind of want to get it looked at and figure out what’s going on with it before I make any decisions,” Keaton Weisz said. “As of right now, yeah, I’m retiring, but you never know what the future holds. I don’t want to put, ‘Yeah, I’m over.’ … I hope that they find nothing or I just have something small wrong with it and then maybe I come back and continue to play. But it’s up in the air. I have to see what the doctors say.”

Even with the pain, Weisz has played in 32 games and batted .261 with two homers and 12 RBIs. He usually bats out of the No. 9 spot.

Just as important, Incaviglia said, is his influence in the clubhouse for the ValleyCats (18-22), who have recovered from a 4-16 start to pull into a three-way tie for first with Equipe Quebec (19-23) and the New York Boulders (18-22) in the Frontier League’s Atlantic Division.

“He loves the game, and those are the type of people you want on your ballclub,” Incaviglia said. “Keaton’s one of those guys that you hate to see leave because he gives so much of himself to his teammates and the game and plays hard. He’s made up of all the things that’s good about baseball, that you love about the game. They care about their teammates and the organization. I wish I had 25 of him.”

ValleyCats outfielder Denis Phipps pointed out Weisz is also the team barber. Weisz had talked with Phipps about playing together in the Dominican Republic next winter.

“I mean, he’s a great guy to be around,” Phipps said. “Everybody likes him … I told him, ‘Get healthy.’ If he gets healthy, he can get back. We’re going to miss him. I hope he’s not retiring.”

Weisz, who played collegiately at Auburn and Coastal Carolina, said he has applied to several law schools. His father is a certified MLB agent. Keaton is one of triplets and his two brothers are done playing. Keaton was drafted in the 36th round by the Angels two years ago and briefly played in Double-A before being released and joining the ValleyCats.

“Baseball’s been a big part of my life since I’ve been little,” Weisz said. “It’s a really hard concept to grasp (retirement) but everyone has to go through it at some point of their life, whether they’re 25 or 45. Hopefully, it’s nothing crazy and maybe I get to come back. If not, I’m OK with where I’ve ended up.”

By senior