Wed Mar 16 12:51pm EDT
Salazar, a 54-year-old former major leaguer with the San Diego Padres, among other clubs, had the eye removed during surgery performed on Tuesday. It was his third surgery overall, and second for his eye.
Dave O'Brien in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that Braves general manager Frank Wren said Salazar was expected to be sent home from the hospital Thursday and return to Orlando for a re-evaluation in another week.
Doctors have told [Salazar] and the Braves that he could be back managing in four to six weeks. He is in his first season in the Braves organization and was hired to manage the high-Class A affiliate in Lynchburg, Va.
"As the doctor told us from the very beginning," Wren said, "in the big picture — and that's what we always have to keep in mind — in the big picture this is a really good outcome. He's alive."
Wren says the truth, in a way. Slugger Brian McCann(notes) hit a ball that hit Salazar's face as he watched a spring training game while standing on the top step of the Braves dugout against a railing. At the time of the incident, doctors weren't sure Salazar would survive.
Salazar lay unconscious for at least 20 minutes, witnesses said, and suffered multiple facial fractures. He was airlifted to a hospital and doctors feared Salazar might die, suffer brain damage or lose his sight. Or some horrible combination of the last two outcomes.
Wren, at least in terms of how he was quoted, seems eager to get Salazar back to work.
"He'll come back for a checkup in one week," Wren said. "Once he does that, they'll give him his program as to when he'll come back to work.
"The thought is that after he comes back in a week [to be reexamined] he'll be able to come back out to the complex and start kind of reintegrating, [possibly] get in a golf cart and kind of watch his team go through their programs and play their games. Then slowly, as his strength regains, get back to the point where he takes over his team.
"But doctors have told us and him there's no reason why in the next four to six weeks he can't go ahead and manage his team as anticipated."
Really, Mr. Wren? Work is no doubt important to Salazar, who has been in baseball for as long as I can remember. But Wren seems to be glossing over a couple of important matters.
Losing vision in an eye — and losing the eye itself — must be an enormous trauma. Salazar might find himself shy about being on a baseball field. Or even going out in public. Driving a car. Getting up and walking around his home. Doing any activity that most of us take for granted.
Losing vision in one eye probably, hopefully, won't make Salazar unable to function in society in the long run, but treating his recovery like any other isn't realistic, or particularly healthy.
It's one thing to be positive and say something like "Your job is here for you when you're ready." And it's so easy for any of us to say "at least Salazar is alive," but such sentiment rings hollow when you still have two functioning eyes. We should have higher standards.
Another point: The real "big picture" is the safety of coaches and athletes on a baseball field. Wren and other executives should learn from this and try to make the playing fields safer. I'm not saying they're negligent because Salazar got hurt, but they would be negligent if nothing changes about safety procedures.
That's also part of what is owed Salazar. And anyone else who might be in danger.
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