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Keough Expected to Make Full Recovery : Baseball: Condition upgraded to fair. Neurosurgeon says Angel should wait three months before pitching.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Matt Keough is expected to make a full physical recovery from the head injury he suffered when he was struck by a foul ball Monday and underwent life-saving brain surgery.

Gordon Deen, the neurosurgeon who performed the 90-minute operation, said that if no complications arise, Keough could return to his Coto de Caza home within a few days.

The Angel pitcher’s condition was upgraded again Wednesday, to fair, and he was moved out of the intensive care unit at Scottsdale Memorial Hospital.

Deen, who is associated with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, said Keough’s athletic conditioning will speed the pitcher’s recovery. Deen recommended that Keough wait three months before he resumes pitching, but he said Keough can work out under medical supervision during that time.

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“He’s ahead of schedule, considering the severity of the injury,” Deen said. “There’s a good chance he will play again.”

Keough, 36, was trying to win a spot on the pitching staff as a nonroster player. He missed all of last season because of rotator cuff surgery and was making a push for a place in the starting rotation. He was sitting in the visitors’ dugout, along the third base line at Scottsdale Stadium, when he was hit.

Angel Manager Buck Rodgers said he had visited Keough on Tuesday and found him in good spirits. “He told me not to give his job away,” Rodgers said.

Keough’s wife, Jeana, said her husband was too groggy from medication to speak with reporters Wednesday. He is expected to make his first public comments Friday.

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Deen said the hospital’s proximity--it is across the street from Scottsdale Stadium--was vital to Keough’s survival.

“It was a life-and-death situation,” said Deen, who anticipated no setbacks for Keough. “We had to get to him right away. He could not have tolerated a long ambulance ride. This is probably the most severe head injury related to baseball that I’ve ever seen.”


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