Rockies’ Ryan Feltner slowly recovering from fractured skull
Ryan Feltner would dearly love to pitch for the Rockies again this season, but first, he must heal, both physically and emotionally.
Seated in the dugout Friday afternoon at Coors Field while rain poured down and thunder roared, Feltner spoke publicly for the first time since getting struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of Philadelphia’s Nick Castellanos on May 13 at Coors. The baseball, traveling at 92.7 mph, caused a concussion and fractured Feltner’s skull. He was immediately rushed to the hospital and spent one night there.
His parents, Derek and Laura, arrived the next morning and have stayed with him since.
Feltner, 26, is slowly recovering, and while his balance seems fine, he’s still experiencing lingering concussion symptoms, as well as pain in his right ear.
“I have a lot of fracture symptoms; just a headache from the concussion, dizziness, but today there’s no pain,” he said. “I’m sleeping well, and the day-to-day stuff has become a lot easier. So the feeling is that I’m in a really good spot compared to where I could be.”
His goal, he said, is to pitch again this season.
“I don’t want to rule it out,” he said. “The desire on my end is there. I’m putting my trust in the team, the professionals that know more than I do about the issues. We’re in this process together, but I will pitch again at some point. I don’t know if it will be this year.”
Referring to the Rockies as “my family,” Feltner said he’s been heartened by the support he’s received from the team.
“I’ve never been in a clubhouse as tight-knit as this one, so that support was expected,” he said. “The support from the guys was overwhelming, it was great. Especially that night. It was super special.”
Feltner remembers a little bit about the scary moment when Castellanos ripped the ball up the middle. Feltner was able to turn his head away at the last moment and the ball hit him in the back-right portion of his head. He immediately collapsed on the mound.
“I didn’t really lose consciousness or anything,” Feltner said. “Everybody got out there pretty quick to check on me, so I just kind of was getting my bearings. I was just glad I was able to walk off. I knew right away what was going on.”
Castellanos was visibly shaken by the moment and he said he felt bad after the game. Feltner said Friday that he received a letter and small gift from Castellanos.
“I felt bad for him because I saw how upset he was, but it’s part of the game,” Feltner said.
Baseball activities are a long way down the road for Feltner. Right now he’s concentrating on his basic health. He started doing balancing exercises Thursday, but there is no definitive plan sketched out.
“There isn’t a set program like a Tommy John program,” Rockies assistant athletic trainer Scott Murayama said, referring to the common elbow reconstruction surgery. “It takes steps to make sure that these symptoms resolve and make sure the fracture heals, and then slowly starting getting back into activities.
“His balance has actually been very good, but with the concussion and ear injury, he can have balance issues. So it’s about retraining the body to be aware of where it’s at.”
As for dealing with the emotional trauma of getting hit in the head, Feltner said, “I’ve already started that process a little bit. That’s probably going to be the first bridge that I cross — the mental aspect of it. Times like this, in my career, when I’ve had to take a step back, I’ve always come back better from it.”
Feltner is in his third season with Colorado and in his second season as part of the starting rotation. He is 2-3 with a 5.86 ERA in eight starts this season.
Jones called up, Toglia sent down. Corner infielder/outfielder Nolan Jones was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque Friday and got the start at first base against the Mets as the team optioned struggling first baseman/outfielder Michael Toglia to Albuquerque.
Jones, obtained from the Guardians during an offseason trade, was called up briefly last month but did not play. Jones, however, was tearing up the Pacific Coast League, slashing .356/.481/.711 with 12 home runs and 33 walks.
Toglia slashed .174/.240/.217 in 10 games. He had no home runs and a strikeout rate of 36%.
Injury updates. Center field Brenton Doyle, who bruised his right knee when he crashed into the wall Thursday night at Coors, will probably not have to go on the injured list, manager Bud Black said. …. Outfielder Randal Grichuk was out of the starting lineup Friday because of back soreness. Since coming off the injured list and joining the Rockies’ lineup, Grichuk is slashing .342/.402/.466 with six doubles and a homer in 19 games.
Saturday’s Pitching Matchup
Mets RHP Justin Verlander (2-2, 3.60) at Rockies RHP Chase Anderson (0-0, 1.15)
7:10 p.m. Saturday, Coors Field
Radio: 850 AM/94.1 FM
The Rockies will face a future Hall of Famer for the second straight game. After Verlander allowed six runs against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 16, he shut down the Cleveland Guardians last weekend. Verlander gave up one run on three hits while striking out five in eight innings, outpitching 2020 CY Young winner Shane Bieber. Meanwhile, Anderson has allowed nine hits and two earned runs in 10 2/3 innings since joining the Rockies. He earned the victory Monday after he gave up nine hits, two walks and a pair of runs in 5 2/3 innings to help Colorado beat the Miami Marlins, 5-3.
Sunday: Mets RHP Tylor Megill (5-3, 4.32) at Rockies LHP Austin Gomber (4-4, 6.48), 1:10 p.m., ATTRM
Monday: Rockies RHP Karl Kauffmann (0-2, 9.35) at Diamondbacks RHP Tommy Henry (2-1, 4.68), 2:10 p.m., ATTRM
Tuesday: Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (4-5, 3.86) at Diamondbacks RHP Ryne Nelson (1-2, 5.02), ATTRM
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