TRENTON, NJ – Brady Lail was seated at his locker in the Trenton Thunder clubhouse Thursday night, a big grin on his face.
“I really feel lucky,” the 21-year-old-from South Jordan, Utah, said. “I had some angels over me last Monday (May 11) night.”
Lail, in Portland’s Hadlock Field, was making his sixth start for the Thunder since being promoted to Trenton from Class-A Tampa. The right-hander has pitched competitively since reaching the Double-A level, putting together a 1-2, 4.37 mark with 16 strikeouts and nine walks.
In that start in Maine, Lail’s seventh pitch was lined back at his face by the Sea Dogs’ Jantzen Witte. The ball struck him at 106 mph, hitting him just below the temple. He likely saved himself a broken jaw by slightly deflecting the ball with his fingers.
“A couple of my fingers on my left hand are a bit sore,” said Lail. “I guess I was able to deflect it a tiny bit. My jaw is a little swollen and I had a bit of an earache, but given what happened, I really got a break.
“In fact, I’m ready to make my next start (which is Saturday).”
Yet, it was a scary moment for the Thunder in a game the Sea Dogs won. 2-1.
“I did try to get up, but they (manager Al Pedrique, pitching coach Jose Rosado and trainer Lee Meyer) told me to get down and stay down. The ambulance came, and they did all the needed tests at the hospital and found no breaks and nothing else wrong.”
Through the rest of the series and the bus ride home to Trenton Wednesday, Lail passed all the concussion tests.
“Brady is cleared for everything,” said Pedrique. “He participated in all workouts before Thursday’s game. He’s all set for his next start, which is good for us since Luis Severino (blister) and Caleb Smith (who returned Friday night). were both on the disabled list.”
Severino is healing, threw his regular bullpen Thursday, and will miss just one start. The Thunder were helped by a strong, six-inning effort by right-hander Eric Ruth Thursday in a game Trenton (17-17) won, 5-2, over Harrisburg.
“I’m glad I didn’t end up on the disabled list,” said Lail. “This could have been a lot worse. I can’t wait to get out there again. And, no, I’m not going to wear one of those helmets.”
Pedique feels as lucky as Lail with this incident.
“The whole thing was scary,” he said. “And, with the way pitchers are getting hurt all over, we’re really glad Lail didn’t have to be put on the disabled list.”
Several other Thunder hopefuls, such as starter Dan Camarena and closer James Pazos never made it to the starting gate this season.
A few scouts from other teams, who have been watching some of the Thunder players extensively, asked about Lail Thursday night.
“He had a welt on his cheek, and you could see the stitching on the baseball,” said Seattle scout Steve Lyons, a former minor-league pitcher in the Cleveland system. “Good to see he’s all right.”
Lail will certainly second that opinion, even with a bit of a sore jaw and earache. As he said, it certainly could have been a lot worse.