Don Baylor, the batting coach of the Los Angeles Angels, suffered a major leg injury as he was catching the game’s ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day in Anaheim on Monday night.
Former outfielder Vladimir Guerrero was throwing the ceremonial pitch. He had signed a one-day contract with the team just so he could retire as an Angel. He threw the pitch to Baylor who was positioned with his left knee on the ground, prepared to catch the ball. The pitch was low and away, and as Baylor leaned in to catch it with a backhand, his right leg gave out.
Guerrero tried to help Baylor get up, and the injured coach was helped off the field by trainers. He was immediately taken to the UC Irvine Medical Center. His surgery, scheduled on Tuesday, took five and a half hours. Performed by Dr. John Scolaro, it involved inserting a plate and screws into Baylor’s fractured right femur or leg bone. He will stay in the hospital for a couple of days for recovery. It will take several months for the broken femur to heal.
Baylor joined the coaching staff of the Angels in October. The 64-year-old was the former manager of the Colorado Rockies and the Chicago Cubs. Six of his 19 major league seasons were spent as an Angel. He and Guerrero are the only American League MVPs in the history of the Angels.
Dave Hansen, the Angels’ assistant hitting coach, will take over while Baylor recovers. “I still can’t believe what happened,” Hansen said. “We’ll hold him close and give him as much support as we can.” Hansen will be assisted by Paul Sorrento, who was originally the minor league hitting coordinator and former major league first baseman.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia is confident that Baylor will still be connected, and giving input. “Knowing Don…he’ll be watching the games. He’ll watch video and text me opinions on lineups,” Scioscia said.
The Angels lost to the Mariners 10-3 during Opening Day, but the loss of their new hitting coach on the field is a sure to be a greater grief.
Horrific Baseball Injuries
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