Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker has emergency brain surgery after being hit in head by line drive

Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker has emergency brain surgery after being hit in head by line drive
Matt Shoemaker hit by line drive.

Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker underwent emergency brain surgery late Sunday night in Seattle to stop bleeding after being hit in the head by a line drive that afternoon in the Angels’ victory over the Mariners. General Manager Billy Eppler said the surgery, performed by Dr. Manuel Ferreira, was successful and that Shoemaker was speaking.

Pitching in Sunday's second inning at Safeco Field, Shoemaker was struck in the right side of the head by a 105-mph line drive off the bat of Seattle’s Kyle Seager. The ball caromed into foul territory and Shoemaker fell to the ground immediately. Trainers hurried to his aid, the crowd hushed and players rushed to be near Shoemaker.

After examination at the ballpark showed he was responsive, Shoemaker was transported to Harborview Medical Center. Initial CT scans showed he suffered a small skull fracture and a hematoma. Periodically, doctors administered additional scans, and around 9 p.m. Sunday, the third set of scans indicated that the bleeding had not ceased.

Shoemaker was immediately wheeled into surgery. While the team traveled to Oakland for a 1 p.m. game Monday against the Athletics, Angels head athletic trainer Adam Nevala stayed in Seattle to tend to the 29-year-old right-hander. Nevala will remain there until Shoemaker is ready to return to Orange County, which the team hopes will be later this week.


"We're going to make sure we have a helping hand with Matt through this," Eppler said. "He's expected to make a full recovery from this."

Eppler spoke to Shoemaker's wife, Danielle, multiple times Sunday night. She is pregnant with the couple's second child; Eppler described her as "a rock." Center fielder Mike Trout said he had exchanged texts with Shoemaker. A number of other Angels said they had communicated with him, including Manager Mike Scioscia.

"We're all thinking about him," Trout said. "It's scary. A scary moment for him, a scary moment for our team, a scary moment for baseball in general."

Trout noted how many times this season he had a seen a ball hit back up the middle narrowly miss a pitcher or nick him in a less crucial area. Even on Monday, not 24 hours after Shoemaker's injury, Angels starter Jered Weaver was hit in the right hip by a comebacker.

"It's almost like you don't know what to do," Weaver said. "Do we keep playing this game, or what? It definitely took the wind out of us."

The Angels placed Shoemaker on the 15-day disabled list Monday, a formality. His season is over. Eppler said Shoemaker should be fit to pitch in 2017, as far as he knows.

Dr. Garni Barkhoudarian, a neurosurgeon at Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Santa Monica, cited Shoemaker's continued consciousness as a positive sign for his prognosis. He estimated Shoemaker would be back to living normally within three to six weeks. Returning to pitch by the start of spring training, in mid-February, would be "within the realm of reasonable possibility," but not a guarantee.

A six-month timeline to return to contact sports would be standard, Barkhoudarian said.

"It's important to recognize that he did very likely sustain a concussion, from a pitch of that velocity being batted back to him," said Barkhoudarian, who did not treat Shoemaker but said he was familiar with the accident. "And he would need to be treated as if he had a concussion."

The doctor said in a telephone interview that an exact prognosis would depend on the location of Shoemaker's hematoma and how many post-concussion symptoms he experienced.

"He's resting comfortably and everything looks like it's taken care of," Scioscia said Monday. "Now it's just the recuperation process for Matty. Our thoughts and prayers are with him."

Out of contention and curious about their options for the future, the Angels had been considering a six-man starting rotation for September. Now they are facing a shortage of starters, and will need to insert someone into Shoemaker's spot. Because of their scheduled day off Thursday, they could wait to do so until next week.

"We're trying to balance making sure that the guys in the rotation now can finish strong and continue to move forward," Scioscia said. "That might mean we'll have to start somebody for Matt, and then use the off day as extra days for some of these guys."

Right-hander Tim Lincecum, who logged a 9.16 earned-run average in nine starts earlier this season, is a candidate to be called up from triple-A Salt Lake and adopt the spot.


Twitter: @pedromoura