Jay Gibbons was beginning to wonder whether his eyes would ever allow him to play in the major leagues again.
“It definitely crept through my mind more than once that this was not going to get better,” Gibbons said Tuesday after being reinstated with the Dodgers. He replaced Marcus Thames, who was put on the 15-day disabled list because of a right quadriceps strain.
Starting in spring training, Gibbons struggled to find the correct contact lenses, especially in his right eye, leaving him unable to handle big league pitching and to break camp with the Dodgers.
“About five days ago, we tried yet another pair, and finally the last doctor I went to made the diagnosis that I was nearsighted and not farsighted [in the right eye], and I was being treated for farsightedness,” Gibbons said.
So Gibbons got new contact lenses and “immediately it made a big difference” while he was playing at triple-A Albuquerque, he said. “Every game got a little bit better,” and he told the Dodgers “I feel I’m good to go.”
“I’m just happy that I’m here now and let’s see what happens,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons, 34, joined the Dodgers last year and appeared in 37 games, batting .280 with five home runs and 17 runs batted in. The left-handed batter hoped to start strong this spring, only to be frustrated by his eyesight.
But now that it has improved, “this is the last time I want to talk about it,” Gibbons said. “In my mind it’s over with, I have no excuse with my eyes.”
Thames, a right-handed batter used mostly as a backup, was hitting .176 (six for 34) with two home runs and four RBIs.
Third baseman Casey Blake made his first appearance in the Dodgers clubhouse since having surgery last week for a staph infection in his left elbow.
For now, “I’m the cheerleader” for the team, said the veteran Blake, who is expected to sit out about five to six weeks.
Blake was wearing a brace that can be adjusted to keep the arm at different angles.
“I don’t know a whole lot about it but that infection obviously is pretty scary stuff,” he said. “You’ve got to make sure you take care of it.”
Blake said he had to wear the brace for another nine days, then start rehabilitation.
Blake, 37, was batting .321 with two home runs and six RBIs.
When Dodgers rookie Ivan De Jesus Jr. singled down the right-field line to collect his first RBI, the ball went right past his father, Chicago Cubs coach Ivan De Jesus, who was in the visitors’ dugout.
“It was a moment I’ve been waiting for all my life,” the younger De Jesus said of the hit Monday night.
Said his father: “It’s a one-in-a-million time. It made me feel really proud of him.”
The Dodgers and Cubs finish their series with a 12:10 p.m. game Wednesday, then the Dodgers go on a seven-game trip to New York and Pittsburgh.