Angels’ Shoemaker, back from skull fracture, faces A’s
OAKLAND, Calif. — Seven months to the day after he was struck in the head by a line drive, ending his 2016 season, Los Angeles Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker will make his first start of 2017 on Tuesday night against the Oakland A’s.
“I’m not thinking about it at all,” Shoemaker said Monday of the incident at Seattle’s Safeco Field on Sept. 4. “It’s not even a thought. I just go out there and I’m pitching, which I’m very thankful for.”
Shoemaker was hit on the right side of his head by Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager’s liner in the second inning. He underwent emergency surgery to stop bleeding from a hematoma in his brain and to repair a small skull fracture.
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“I think Matty, what he went through is something you pray no player, let alone a pitcher, will have to go through,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said before a 4-2 season-opening loss to Oakland on Monday. “When you talk about injuries, then all of a sudden you talk about life-threatening injuries, it’s just a different thing.
“And it’s remarkable really from Day One going out there, throwing to hitters in spring training, I think he showed early that there’s no residual effect of what happened, and he’s going to go out there and pitch well.”
Shoemaker will wear a carbon-fiber protective insert in his cap. He said his wife, Danielle, probably “feels a little better” that he’ll have added protection but didn’t pressure him to wear the insert.
“She was like, ‘You got a titanium plate in there, so you’re probably good if it hits the same spot,'” Shoemaker said, smiling. “Hopefully it never does. … The cool thing is she really didn’t mind either way. She just said whatever you’re comfortable doing.”
Shoemaker went 9-13 with a 3.88 ERA last season in 27 starts but was 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last three starts before his season-ending injury.
“I just want to carry off that, and now I just want to get better,” said Shoemaker, who went 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA in 2014 as a rookie.
A’s left-hander Sean Manaea, who made his major league debut on April 29 last season, will make his 2017 debut. Manaea went 7-9 with a 3.86 ERA as a rookie and came on strong down the stretch. He went 3-3 with a 1.05 ERA in his final six starts.
“I think I’ve grown a lot,” Manaea said. “Last year there was a pretty steep learning curve, especially at the beginning. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was just trying to find routines and just putting everything together. Once I learned what to do and how to control everything mentally and just slowing things down and being myself, that’s where I felt like I really took off. I just got to carry that into this year and build off that.”
Last season, Manaea battled injuries, including a left pronator strain, but he became stronger by handling adversity in his first big-league season.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Manaea said. “The atmosphere is completely different than in the minor leagues. I felt like I was pretty ready for it, but just going through all those tough starts and the injuries, that helped me a lot, too. It wasn’t good at the time, but now that we’re here, I know how to deal with that kind of stuff. That definitely will help me out.”
Manaea is 0-1 with a 3.55 ERA in two career starts against the Angels. Shoemaker is 4-2 with a 3.48 ERA in 10 career appearances, including nine starts, against Oakland.