Doctors can’t save Braves minor league manager’s eye

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Surgeons could not save the left eye of Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar, who was hit in the face by a foul ball last week.

The former major league player had the eye removed during surgery Tuesday, the second procedure on the eye and third overall surgery Salazar had since being hit by a foul ball off the bat of Braves catcher Brian McCann in a spring-training game Wednesday.

“Despite the best efforts of really skilled eye specialists here in Orlando, they were not able to save his eye,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said Wednesday. “He had surgery yesterday and they removed the eye.”

Wren said Salazar, 54, was expected to be released from Orlando Regional Medical Center by Thursday and return home to Boca Raton, Fla. He will reevaluated in one week in Orlando, and it’s uncertain if he will need additional facial surgery.

Doctors have told him and the Braves that he could be back managing in four to six weeks. Salazar is in his first year in the Braves organization and was hired to manage the high-Class A affiliate in Lynchburg, Va.

He had been serving as an extra coach on the major league staff during spring training.

“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…. He’s alive.”

Salazar sustained multiple facial fractures and was knocked unconscious for at least 20 minutes after being hit while he stood against a dugout railing during a Grapefruit League game against St. Louis.

He was hit flush in the left side of his face and knocked out immediately, then tumbled several feet and landed face-first on the dugout floor. Salazar was airlifted to the hospital and didn’t regain consciousness and resume breathing on his own until he was in the helicopter.

Braves including Chipper Jones, Rodrigo Lopez and first-base coach Terry Pendleton said it was the worst injury they had seen in baseball. As Salazar lay motionless on the dugout floor and the Champion Stadium crowd sat in stunned silence, players and coaches standing around the dugout feared the worst.

At that time, many of them thought Salazar might die.

McCann was devastated and took himself out of the game immediately after the first-inning incident, so that he could go the hospital and be with Salazar. He spent hours at the hospital with Salazar and his family.

Braves players heard reports the next day that Salazar would probably lose the eye. Many of them had  gotten to know the amiable Salazar during the first weeks of camp, and his condition has been on their minds since the incident.

“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 he regains 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.”

137 comments Add your comment

Jamaaliver

March 16th, 2011
11:23 am

I am so sorry to hear this. Truly devastating news.

OrlandoTopDawg

March 16th, 2011
11:23 am

DJD, that is some sad news! B-Mac has to feel terrible about this.

amos

March 16th, 2011
11:26 am

i’m glad he’s alive.

GeorgiaBoy

March 16th, 2011
11:30 am

Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his.
Awful.

I feel

March 16th, 2011
11:33 am

Jim Pierce

March 16th, 2011
11:34 am

So sorry to hear this. :(

Sharon C

March 16th, 2011
11:34 am

Thankful he’s alive, but so very very sorry to hear this news. Prayers for him, his family, the Braves Organization and MaCann.

Kevin

March 16th, 2011
11:35 am

Don’t know why they don’t have some netting up around the dugouts and behind the dugouts. Someone is going to get killed by a bat or foul ball one day. It has already happened in hockey and it is only a matter of time for baseball.

Patrick

March 16th, 2011
11:36 am

Prayers go out to him and his family, the Braves, and McCann. You really have to feel for McCann, that’s a really tough weight to put on his shoulders.

true-brave

March 16th, 2011
11:39 am

LS – all the best well wishes from Germany. This is terrible but it could have been much worse. Wish you a quick recovery and all the best for the future

Brenda

March 16th, 2011
11:44 am

Sorry for his loss.Hope he’ll be back with the team soon.

DollarDawg43

March 16th, 2011
11:44 am

Bittersweet news to say the least. You always held out hope the doctors could save the eye but, as Frank Wren said, you are also thankful he is alive and will regain his health. Best wishes to the Salazar family and also to Brian McCann.

Chopper

March 16th, 2011
11:48 am

Definitely prayers for him and his family.

Novice Ned

March 16th, 2011
11:48 am

A tragic story. I know someone who lost all vision in one eye when they were 40 years old and while it took some adjustment, their life did not signicantly change. They are able to function normally. So as suggested, the good news is that he is alive and should be able to lead a fairly normal life (after dealing with the obvious emotional issues).

DTS10

March 16th, 2011
11:49 am

I was there… maybe 25 feet away when he was hit by the line drive. And it happened so fast and it made such a sound that I thought the ball actually hit the wall or post. Wren is correct – in the grand scheme, this is great news. But you have to feel bad for Salazar. And for McCann – you know this has to be weighing on his mind. Isn’t it ironic that McCann had the eye problems the last two seasons and now this year it’s another individual’s eye that has become the story for him?

chirotodd

March 16th, 2011
11:50 am

Horrible.. LETS ALL PRAY FOR HIM AND HIS FAMILY.

alimc

March 16th, 2011
11:52 am

Hate seeing this headline :( so sad!

BravesFan in DC

March 16th, 2011
11:53 am

Truly sad news. At least he is alive but you can’t help but feel for Salazar, his family, and of course Brian McCann.

german

March 16th, 2011
11:53 am

true brave where in germany are you?

BravesFanLostInOhio

March 16th, 2011
11:54 am

I’m so sorry. Luis Salazar, his family, and Brain McCann are all in my prayers.

Tracey

March 16th, 2011
11:55 am

So sad. I used to work for a minor league team and shuddered when parents would not pay attention to the game while there children were in foul ball danger.

God bless him and his family!

Wow

March 16th, 2011
11:56 am

I am so sorry to hear this. I am glad that he suvived. I really hope that everything is okay.

Gene

March 16th, 2011
11:56 am

I was at the stadium and saw the ball hit Salazar in the head and shoot back onto the field. He is lucky to have survived. I hope Luis goes on to have a great career managing in the Braves’ organization. I hope that McCann gets over the shock of this unfortunate accident and has a good year as well. It was horrible seeing Salazar go down and tragic to watch McCann go over to look at him.

Matt

March 16th, 2011
11:57 am

I of course feel bad for Salazar but Brian McCann has to just be really low right now emotionally. At least the good Lord kept him above ground and for that he can be thankful.

Ben

March 16th, 2011
11:57 am

This is terrible news, but glad to hear that is going to be alright. It’s ashame that B-Mac has to feel at least a since of guilt for this accident as any human being would feel. At the same time and as much baseball as I played, I still can’t imagine not paying attention to the hitter and watching what is going on and leaving yourself open to get hit. Just one of those things I suppose.

Fish Bisch

March 16th, 2011
11:57 am

Get Well Luis

null

March 16th, 2011
11:57 am

Just awful. I won’t pray, but best wishes to him and to Brian McCann because he must be feeling a lot of guilt.

Tiffany

March 16th, 2011
11:58 am

That is sooo sad…my prayers go out to the Salazar family and to Brian…poor guy I know he must feel awful about that… :( It’s ok Brian…we know it was an accident.

Braves Grrrl

March 16th, 2011
11:59 am

In no way am I equating what happened to me to this terrible accident, but I just wanted to add that I have been without sight in my left eye since I was 6-years-old (am now 45). It is an adjustment, for sure, but after you have made the adjustment it becomes your new “normal”. Loss of some peripheral vision and depth perception are issues, but not insurmountable issues.

My prayers will continue to with Coach Salazar and his family and Brian and his family.

Dontavius Supremo

March 16th, 2011
12:02 pm

God bless him and his family. But as the doctors said, he is alive. Thank God for that!

Joey M

March 16th, 2011
12:04 pm

My heart sank when I read this. Both for Salazar and McCann. I was immediately reminded of Herb Score. Gil McDougald hit that infamous line drive. And neither man was the same after that. I just hope Salazar ends up better for it, his family gets closer than ever, and McCann can find peace with what happened and can be the same McCann as always. I hope the guys sit on the bench while he hits so he doesn’t worry about hitting another teammate. Neither man can get through this by themselves.

Just Pat

March 16th, 2011
12:09 pm

Thoughts, prayers and hope with the Salazars and Brian McCann. I’m so very glad he survived because I wasn’t sure at first that he would the way the players were acting. Has to be hard on everyone.

James

March 16th, 2011
12:13 pm

I’m glad to hear that is going to be alright this is something that I know is going to make him stronger and I know he’s not gonna let this get him down.

BravesGirl

March 16th, 2011
12:15 pm

My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

greg

March 16th, 2011
12:15 pm

yea he wil be gud to go

Bill

March 16th, 2011
12:16 pm

After my brother lost an eye, he learned all there was to know about polycarbonate glasses and was told for the rest of his life he had one concern, to protect his eye, his only eye, Salazar is on that same path now, and yes, THANK GOD HE IS ALIVE.

Unknown Hinson

March 16th, 2011
12:18 pm

Take the positive, he can still see with one eye and he is alive. One eye is a small price to pay for life itself.

In Fredi I Trust

March 16th, 2011
12:20 pm

Just thankful he is alive and no brain damage. He is a warrior in my eyes. To take a hit like that and not only survive, but potentially coming back to work within 2 months after this happened, he is more of a man than I am I will tell you that much.

Good luck Coach Salazar, and I will be pulling for you.

boots

March 16th, 2011
12:21 pm

Prayers are with he, his family and Brian. Just a bad situation all the way around and reminds us that life is precious. I have always wondered why there is not a better covering on the dugouts, and maybe some steps can be taken to prevent other accidents from happening. I am glad he is recovering, and I know he and his family are grateful for his life. Go Braves!

Skeezix

March 16th, 2011
12:28 pm

This is very tough news. As my wife and I say often, every day we have our health is a good day.

Greene Hornet

March 16th, 2011
12:31 pm

I am praying for all who are involved. I just hope McCann knows that there was nothing he could have done- just an accident. I know players are sometimes highly paid and get criticism, etc, but they and the coaches, etc are all people with feelings and families. I pray Salazar will heal and get back to coaching and McCann will heal in his heart.

bravesgrl4life

March 16th, 2011
12:31 pm

So sad to hear this, but as Frank Wren said, it could have been so much worse. My heart still goes out to Coach Salazar and his family as they go through this, and to Brian. I know Brian must be feeling it all over again with this news. My prayers go up for them all.

Daniel

March 16th, 2011
12:32 pm

Thanks for the update Dave. As everyone else has said, our prayer are with Luis, his family and the Braves family. Glad to hear that he will recover and sorry to hear about the loss of his eye. Wishing everyone a speedy recovery.

TommyJack

March 16th, 2011
12:36 pm

phil

March 16th, 2011
12:37 pm

Jack Roush lost an eye like this last year due to a facial injury in a plane crash. He bounced right back and has done fine from what you can tell. Glad Salazar is ok overall.

Ken Stallings

March 16th, 2011
12:39 pm

Terrible how someone losing an eye is considered a good outcome!

I realize these things are very rare (getting hit in the head with a foul ball). But, it comes close to happening many times. Perhaps it really is time for baseball to do a bit more to try to make the dugouts a little safer.

Would the players really object to higher netting? I realize they want to see what is happening on the field and perhaps they would object if they cannot see the pitcher working. But one wonders if the right type of netting would not be a significant visual impairment but at the same time make it so someone watching the action on the field isn’t set up for being blindsided by a foul ball.

BP and spring training are the worst times for this. A lot of things happening in many different places. During the game, there is one batter and one pitcher and the focus is generally there. That is part of the issue.

Michael

March 16th, 2011
12:40 pm

Really glad Salazar is okay. Stuart Scott lost an eye as well. He’s still kicking it!

Don’t want to rub anyone the wrong way,

but is it not ironic that McCann, out of all players, hit the ball, considering all of the “eye” problems he’s had in the past?

eerie…

bravo-n-knoxville

March 16th, 2011
12:45 pm

Prayers for the Salazar and McCann families as this once possibly fatal event ends as a loss of an eye instead of a life. This is devastating for everyone involved, but I guarantee you Salazar finds a way to not just manage again…but, to use the tragedy to teach others about being thankful for what one does have. Every former player that has commented on him during their playing careers, mentioned his humility, and engaging spirit as a human being. Please MLB take action to ensure that the possibility of something this horific occuring again is minimized thru the proper use of safety netting!

Dan

March 16th, 2011
12:45 pm

PLEASE TELL US HOW TO SEND OUR BEST WISHES TO HIM!!!

Rod

March 16th, 2011
12:46 pm

sad news. hopefully research will move fast enough so he can get an artificial one in the next decade.

usnavyvolfaninva

March 16th, 2011
12:56 pm

I’m sure this is nothing new, but my heart goes out to Salazar and his family.. also, Brian must feel terrible, but he has to know there was absolutely no way he could control where that ball went. My prayers for Luis Salazar and family, and for Brian as well.

admiral

March 16th, 2011
12:56 pm

So sad to hear this, but as the article said, you’ve gotta just be thankful that Coach Salazar is alive. Last year the team played for Bobby – I have no doubt that, somewhere in their minds, this season will be for Luis!

Vick=Dog killing thug

March 16th, 2011
1:08 pm

Best of wished to Luis and his family

KarenG

March 16th, 2011
1:09 pm

Such a terrible accident for all involved. Something good will come of this. It is great to read all the positive comments regarding this story. Let’s continue to keep the Salazar’s and McCann’s lifted in prayer.

Corky Miller's Beer Gut

March 16th, 2011
1:10 pm

hansen gives up early homer 1 nothing soxs

Seth

March 16th, 2011
1:13 pm

Wishing him a speedy recovery

Larry

March 16th, 2011
1:20 pm

Truly sad, but it sounds like for about 20-30 minutes, everyone would have prayed for this outcome.

Now he can still hug his wife and children…

RK

March 16th, 2011
1:21 pm

Did you have to include the picture of him with a logo that has two giant eyes on it?

duck !

March 16th, 2011
1:22 pm

a thousand wonders this does not happen more often with these unprotected 100 mph missles . I was hit in the back getting my bat from the dugout when I played college ball 15 yrs ago (memphis state) and I was down for a week .

Pete

March 16th, 2011
1:28 pm

Our prayers are of course with Coach Salazar but ALSO with Brian McCann who will have problems of guilt feelings for the rest of his life.
These two good people will be forever joined as friends in a very unique and touching way.

luv them braves

March 16th, 2011
1:30 pm

Okay maybe I shouldn’t point this out, but couldn’t you find a picture of him in another uniform? Braves or whatever, You HAD to show him in a Chattanooga “Lookouts” uniform with two eyes on the logo. Just sayin.

Brime Lee

March 16th, 2011
1:42 pm

Yes, Let’s take a positive from this sad news.
Yes, This news is a kind of heartbreaking because Luis lost his left eye.
But more importantly he’s alive and he can still see the world and he could manage his team in near future.

THANK GOD, LUIS WILL BE ABLE TO CONTINUE HIS BASEBALL LIFE WITH HIS OWN EYE.

AND IT WAS NEVER YOUR FAULT, B-Mac.

It must have been a really sad experience, maybe words cannot describe what you feel about this one.
But it was never your fault, it just can happen in reality.
So, Don’t ever let your feeling down. Luis had to lose one of his eyes but he hasn’t lost his love and dreams of baseball. LUIS STILL CAN DO WHAT HE WAS SUPPOSED TO DO.

Go, Mac.
Put this behind and GO STRONG and HAVE A GREAT YEAR for yourself and Mr. Salazar.

WE LOVE YOU, BRIAN.
WE REALLY DO LOVE YOU, OUR CATCHER.

1eyedJack

March 16th, 2011
1:53 pm

Thankfully the Good Lord gave us two. I know how it feels to lose an eye. At first it’s devastating…then you get used to it, the brain adjusts. The hardest thing to get used to is depth perception and frightened little kids pointing at you in the grocery store.

jwilli120

March 16th, 2011
2:03 pm

chipper hit the back foot with the bat and had that look
on his face like he was hurt, but went to the dugout and
laughed and smiled about it chipper is OK

David

March 16th, 2011
2:04 pm

Never, stoped thinking of the Tony Conigliaro story, now this…

jwilli120

March 16th, 2011
2:05 pm

1-1 top of the 4th, brooks just made a play in the hole

jwilli120

March 16th, 2011
2:06 pm

chipper flashing the leather 2out

southern hope

March 16th, 2011
2:06 pm

I have a friend (now a very successful Hollywood producer, of all things) who lost an eye playing sports as a teenager. I met him in my 20s & did not realize he had a glass eye until weeks after our initial meeting…the technology & advances in this field are amazing. He tells me that people who casually meet him now, often *never* know of the eye.

jwilli120

March 16th, 2011
2:08 pm

ortiz flies out to center bottom of the 4th braves coming to bat

Tommy

March 16th, 2011
2:14 pm

The fine folks over at the Bham clinic one of the best in the world have said that nail guns and golf balls are the two things they see more accidents from, can’t believe more are not blind from a baseball?????????????????

jwilli120

March 16th, 2011
2:17 pm

nothing doin 1-1 top of the 5th

AL

March 16th, 2011
2:19 pm

Aaron, has just homered into the left field bull pen 2 on bottom of the 3nd.

E-6

March 16th, 2011
2:22 pm

Sad about Luis Salazar. Although he never played for the Braves, I remember him as a guy who played with a lot grit, decent glove and some pop in the bat back when we were still in the NL West and saw the Padres a lot. We all pray for a speedy recovery.

Gtfanfrom1951

March 16th, 2011
2:24 pm

we will be praying for him and his family

jwilli120

March 16th, 2011
2:26 pm

hanson strikes out the side

jwilli120

March 16th, 2011
2:35 pm

eukalis robs prado of a double 1 down
conrad singles up the middle
chipper singles runner on 1st and 2nd
mccann walks bases loaded 1 out
ski at the plate sac fly 2-1 braves lead

jwilli120

March 16th, 2011
2:36 pm

mather singles and chipper scores 3-1 braves

jwilli120

March 16th, 2011
2:43 pm

bases loaded ross draws a walk
ramirez bounces to 2nd 3-1 braves

D. Harris

March 16th, 2011
2:43 pm

I’m so sorry to hear this. But it’s like Frank Wren said, he’s alive, and he will be able to manage again. That’s something to be thankful for. My prayers are with Luis’ family as well as Brian McCann. I know he feels terrible, but it wasn’t his fault. It was one of those freak accidents. The fact that he’s taken it this hard is a testament to his character and shows how much he cares about people.

jwilli120

March 16th, 2011
2:45 pm

end of the day for hanson 2 hits and 1 run

Bravesbobblehead23

March 16th, 2011
2:47 pm

I pray for the Coach Salazar, Brian McCann and all involved with this accident. I pray Salazar makes a speedy recovery and is back to doing what he enjoys, managing soon.

Honey Bee

March 16th, 2011
2:51 pm

@ Michael: I hear about Stuart Scott- he’s kicking it just fine with one eye and it didn’t slow him down a bit.

And my prayers go out to the Salazar family. Not to make light of a painful situation, but Coach Luis was a good looking man, and he’ll be even more intriguing if he rocks an eye patch! He could totally pull it off. Can’t wait to see him back in uniform in the dugout!

myra

March 16th, 2011
2:54 pm

Hang in there ‘Skip.
Get back when U can.
Best wishes from Braves Country!

SmittyATL

March 16th, 2011
2:54 pm

Please remember the danger the next time you go to a game. If you sit in the first several rows anywhere near the infield (outside the area protected by the screen behind home plate), a screamer could be headed your way at any time. You’d better pay attention, take it easy on the beers, and NEVER take your kids to those seats.

hellome

March 16th, 2011
3:11 pm

it’s all fun and game until someone loses an eye.

bravesnrockiesfan

March 16th, 2011
3:14 pm

My thoughts and prayers go out to the entire team of the Atlanta Braves, as well as the entire Salazaar family. So very to sad to hear he is losing an eye, but on the plus side…. he didn’t lose his life! God Bless you all!

Stu

March 16th, 2011
3:14 pm

Was he in the 1st or 3rd base dugout?

Bruce Sutter

March 16th, 2011
3:20 pm

Baseball is a dangerous sport. I guess the coach was looking at the defense instead of the batter when he got hit. Being a pitcher is even more dangerous being that close to the plate.

Pirate

March 16th, 2011
3:21 pm

Lost an eye when I was 15. He might not be able to pick out a curve quite as easily, but he will adjust just fine and be back coaching before you know it. This is truly a blessing – could have been worse.

kmedel

March 16th, 2011
3:31 pm

Happy to see so many positive comments related to this incident. In any baseball game, it is best to keep your eye on the game, especially the ball, when you are at field level and in a site where there is no netting/protection. A sad ending, but he is alive…and we all, the Braves, Brian McCann, should be thankful that he is alive…and most assuredly, I expect he will be out to that diamond in a few weeks. I know a friend that lost sight in one eye…and they are still doing well. Luis…we are all pulling for you, dude! Thanks!

extremus

March 16th, 2011
3:35 pm

Truly sad news, and I wish Luis Salazar a quick return to health and the game of baseball.

Buckhead Brave

March 16th, 2011
3:37 pm

My father lost an eye due to a terrible auto accident years ago. We were all initially devastated about the loss of the eye, but what we learned was that people can function quite normally with only one eye (driving, etc), and that the prosthetics available today are amazing. I’m sure that Luis will be able to move on and if they’re not already there, the family will come to realize that the loss of an eye is so minor compared to losing a father/husband/brother. Hopefully, Brian will be able to lose any guilt that normally is associated with a situation like this. It was purely an accident, nothing that he could do.

Baseball, on the other hand, needs to get its act together on safety issues. There is no reason in this day and age for there not to be mesh screening in ballparks to protect people in dugouts and fans seated down the baselines from flying balls and shattered bats. The idea that it would somehow detract from the game for people not to be able to catch a foul ball makes no sense. How many people have to get seriously hurt before something gets done?

Dave

March 16th, 2011
3:42 pm

Thank God he will be ok! A truly terrible accident.

dick

March 16th, 2011
3:46 pm

They need to install plexiglass around dug out. Hockey has it, why shouldn’t baseball?

Otisnixonsmokescrack!

March 16th, 2011
3:55 pm

i’m guessing it’s too soon for jokes no?? Just kidding. In all seriousness, from a phillies fan.. I’m truly sad to hear this. I hope that he isn’t in too much pain of the physical nature. Get back on the diamond soon.

Don

March 16th, 2011
3:56 pm

I am so very sorry to hear of this devastating turn of events. Prayers go out for Mr. Salazar and his family, and Brian McCann and his family. I know that baseball can be a dangerous sport, but you just never expect for something like this to happen. Hopefully, people in MLB and minor affiliates will install protective measures to see that this never happens again. They call these accidents, and certainly noone is at fault. Maybe something good can ultimately come from this that can prevent a possible fatality in the future…

heartofdarkness

March 16th, 2011
4:19 pm

Luis Salazar is going to provide some inspiration to the young kids in Lynchburg this year.

rich brave

March 16th, 2011
4:23 pm

Heal up LUIS. Want to shake your hand in LYNCHBURG this year.

Otisnixonsmokescrack!

March 16th, 2011
4:38 pm

Lynchburg huh? There’s a town name you can’t forget.

Choppinmama

March 16th, 2011
4:44 pm

As fragile as the human body seems at times, it’s truly amazing that Coach Salazar could be back on the field in this season at all!!! I was right on the dugout, 5′ to the left of the accident. There was NO time to react to that foul ball. I was so sick at heart for the rest of the day.

Lots of prayers said for physical and emotional healing for all involved. It struck me a few days later that if it had been a young player who was hit, his baseball career would be over.

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