In most cases, sight of a Major League pitcher throwing to batters during a spring training practice session might not cause the casual observer to even bat an eye. But for Angels fans, and anyone that remembers what happened in early September in Seattle, seeing right-handed pitcher Matt Shoemaker take the bump against live batters at spring training on Wednesday is a sight to behold.
Out of the playoff race with less than a month to go in 2016, the Angels were just trying to finish the season with a bit of respectability intact and take stock in what they might have going into 2017. Not to mention, avoid any injuries.
Having already lost two pitchers to Tommy John surgery and another sitting out the remainder of the year after a Tommy John scare, Shoemaker took the mound on Sept. 4 against the Mariners having been one of the few starters to make it this far in the season relatively unscathed by injury.
Unscathed until Kyle Seger stepped to the plate and sent a hot shot back up the middle hitting Shoemaker on the right side of the head and fracturing his skull.
As teammates looked on in shock, Angels trainers were able to help Shoemaker walk off the field but tests at the hospital reveled the full extent of the damage necessitating emergency surgery to reliever pressure on the pitcher’s brain. While his teammates returned to California, Shoemaker remained in the hospital as it was feared pressure from the flight could cause further damage or worse.
Despite recovering fully from surgery, needless to say, Shoemaker season was over. Yet another Angels pitcher unable to finish the season.
Fast forward to Wednesday at Angels spring training. With the scare behind him, Shoemaker arrived in Arizona eager to prove he showed no lingering signs of the injury other than a scar just behind his right temple.
After today’s session with live hitters, he’s one step closer.