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Baseball line drives take another toll -- Luis Salazar has lost an eye

March 16, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
(Ricardo DeAratanha/Los…)

Baseball line drives usually make headlines in two ways -- when they save the game and when they do great harm. This week's headlines fall in the latter category: Atlanta Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar has lost an eye after being hit in the face by a line-drive foul ball last week.

Doctors said that Salazar's left eye had to be removed. This Orlando Sentinel story explains:

"Salazar, 54, was watching a spring training game between the Braves and St. Louis Cardinals minor league teams when Brian McCann fouled a ball near his team's dugout where Salazar was standing. Salazar was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center shortly after he was struck, where doctors performed multiple surgeries to repair his face."

Braves general manager Frank Wren labeled this a "freak accident," and indeed it's uncommon -- for a player or a bystander.

But a Texas woman died last year after being struck by a line drive. And a minor league coach in Oklahoma was killed by a line drive a few years ago.

Deaconess Health System in Indiana has even offered a trauma course in line-drive injuries. The promotional material for the course says:

"--In fast-pitch softball, a pitcher throwing at 59 mph has an average of 0.278 seconds to react to a ball hit back toward the mound.
--Although death from a sports injury is rare, the leading cause of death from a sports-related injury is a brain injury.
--Nearly 117,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for baseball-related injuries.
--Nearly 26,000 children ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for softball-related injuries.
--Baseball has the highest fatality rate among sports for children ages 5 to 14.
--Most organized-sports-related injuries occur during practice."

Sure, sprains and muscle pulls may be among the more common baseball injuries, but so too are broken bones, broken jaws and concussions -- at least when it comes to kids' sports. This top 10 list from FamilyEducation.com details each type of injury.

And remember, those are just for kids. Grown-up, professional athletes hit and throw with much more force. Much more.

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