Centre-fielder Chris Roberson won't be playing baseball for at least a week, but the fact he was able to see Sunday's game from the Winnipeg Goldeyes' dugout was something to celebrate.
Roberson, 32, was hit in his left eye during his fifth-inning plate appearance Friday at Shaw Park when the ball deflected off his bat and into his face. Striking him on the eye and orbital bone, he was cut for six stitches and suffered significant bruising and some bleeding behind the eye.
"Pretty dang lucky, I can still see. If it hit me straight on, I'm in trouble. I was fortunate, very fortunate," said Roberson, speaking with media prior to Sunday's game against the St. Paul Saints. As he spoke he held an ice bag on his left eye, which was swollen nearly shut. The stitches were visible just below the eyebrow.
"They (doctors) said if it hit me straight on, I might be blind. It ricocheted off my cheekbone first and then shot up off my helmet."
Taken to hospital immediately after the incident by Goldeyes athletic therapist Shane Zbediak, Roberson was examined, stitched up and able to go home.
"It was pretty scary because I couldn't feel anything. Everything was kind of dark and black for a while. I couldn't see anything for about 10 minutes. We started going to the hospital and it started coming back a little bit. Before the stitches, the cut was pretty open -- it was tough to actually open my eye because it was bleeding all over the place."
The Goldeyes' best hitter with a .337 average and third in RBI with 58, Roberson is a big part of the team and it's a big loss when the club is clinging to a two-game lead for the league's wild-card playoff berth.
On Saturday, Roberson was examined by two eye specialists, a surgeon and an iris specialist, who both determined there appears to be no permanent damage.
"I'm getting my focus today. Yesterday was kind of blurry," Roberson said, adding he was told there was some scratching on the eye and he'd see some spots for a bit. "It was a bit of bleeding in there and it's all coming out through my nose. They just want to make sure that clears up and I'll be OK. The main thing is getting my vision before I play."
The pitch that proved almost disastrous was a cutter, a fastball that breaks a bit to the pitcher's glove side as it reaches home plate. A switch-hitter, Roberson was batting righty against a Saints' southpaw.
"I just tried to get inside as much as I could. It kind of took a weird angle (off the bat) and it jumped right back at me," Roberson said. "Maybe I should start laying off that pitch."
An upbeat person who was clearly staying positive about his ordeal, Roberson put his hand out in a couple of wrong spots for a handshake with a reporter, pretending he couldn't see properly.
"Nah, just kidding," he said, laughing at the reporter's surprised expression.
He said he injured the same eye in 2004 while playing with Clearwater in the advanced A Florida State League.
"This same eye, only the catcher was throwing the ball to the pitcher and I kind of had my head leaning over the plate. He just winged it and threw it right on the side of my helmet. If I didn't have a double-flap helmet, they said the same thing, I might have been blind. But it hit the helmet first and then it ricocheted off my eye. So I got lucky twice."
When the Goldeyes head out on the road this week to Gary and St. Paul, Roberson will stay home and have his eye examined today and Wednesday by specialists.
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