Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Ryan Vogelsong, center, is helped by team trainers after being hit in the head by a pitch from starting pitcher Jordan Lyles in the second inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Monday, May 23, 2016. The Pirates won 6-3. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
PITTSBURGH - As Ryan Vogelsong lay in his hospital bed, his left eye swollen shut after he was beaned, unsure if he would see out of that eye again, he and wife Nicole were overwhelmed by the support he got from fans in San Francisco.
"You hate for something to happen like that to see how many people are thinking about you and care about you," Vogelsong said Monday in the home clubhouse at PNC Park. "I got so many text messages. She got so many messages on Twitter because I'm not on it.
"When you're lying there and you can't do much, it lifts your spirits up. It helped us get through the first couple of days for sure."
Vogelsong still has a shiner and swelling underneath his left eye, which was hit by a Jordan Lyles pitch on May 23. On June 2, he underwent surgery to repair seven fractures around his eye and sinuses.He is seeing 20-20 and his peripheral vision is restored. He is throwing from 90 feet, though not catching return throws for fear a ball might get away and hit his face.
Vogelsong is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list the final week of July, good timing ahead of a Pirates trip to San Francisco in mid-August, when Vogelsong could face the Giants.
"I would love that," he said.
At 38, he has no plans to retire. He has two championship rings with the Giants, who did not offer him a chance to return in 2016. He said he understood.
"I kind of knew they were probably going after some front-line guys for the rotation to make it better and give them more innings and take a load of the bullpen," he said. "It was never my intention to make it seem like I didn't want to go back there. I would have loved to go back. It was a matter of a team progressing."
Instead, he signed a one-year, $2 million deal to be a Pirates swingman. He started the season in the bullpen and was making his second start when he was struck. The shot was so severe, doctors could not tell for a day if he could see from the eye. They had to pry his eyelids open to shine a light on it.
Vogelsong said he genuinely feared partial blindness.
"I've been reminded multiple times by the doctor how lucky I was," he said. "When I went into surgery, he said the damage was a lot worse than he thought it was. I’m not taking for granted that I can see."
Vogelsong also had his hand broken by pitched with the Giants and is unsure how he will react when he has to hit again, saying, "I'm going to make a conscious effort to get over it and get back it."
But he definitely wants to hit and has not been swayed to favor the DH in the National League.