Rays prospect Tyler Zombro expects to resume baseball career after being hit in head by line drive

Last season on June 4, Tampa Bay Rays minor-league righty Tyler Zombro was hit in the head by a line drive that knocked him unconscious before he even fell to the ground. Zombro began to convulse on the mound and was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent emergency brain surgery to treat his injuries.

Nine months later, Zombro is close to resuming his baseball career. He told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he plans to report to minor-league spring training later this month, and be ready for the start of the minor-league season in April. Here’s more from Topkin:

“Within the next month to two months,” Zombro said Monday, “I certainly will be 100 percent.”

Zombro, 27, will return wearing protective headgear under his cap, a custom-fitted Kevlar-padded insert, with no other limitations or special treatment — although with a noticeable scar on the right side of his head — and he expects to be ready for the early April start of the minor league season.

Doctors installed 16 titanium plates and 32 screws to stabilize Zombro’s skull and relieve pressure on his brain, according to Topkin. He temporarily lost motor skills on the left side of his body and also some speech skills. Zombro was cleared medically in December, when a CT scan showed his fracture healed and the plates were intact.

Zombro was pitching for Tampa’s Triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls in North Carolina, when he was struck by the line drive. He was rushed to nearby Duke Hospital. Zombro began playing catch a few weeks ago and threw off a mound for the first time last month.

Originally an undrafted free-agent signing out of George Mason, Zombro was named the Rays’ Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year in 2019, when he threw 63 innings with a 2.29 ERA at Double-A and Triple-A. He does not rank among Tampa’s top prospects, though he was in big-league spring training as a non-roster invitee in 2020 and 2021.

Topkin adds Zombro is already working toward his post-playing career. He does player development work with Tread Athletics in Charlotte, an independent training facility with an emphasis on analytics. Zombro began that work back in college and those skills are in high demand around baseball these days.

The Triple-A season is scheduled to begin April 5 and the lower levels on April 8. The MLB lockout has no bearing on the minor-league season, which will be played as scheduled, only without 40-man roster players. Zombro is not on Tampa’s 40-man roster.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.