Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Brentz '100 percent' after gunshot wound
By David Dorsey, Special to ESPNBoston.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Bryce Brentz didn't begin this season quite like he wanted to.
The Boston Red Sox right field prospect accidentally shot himself with a handgun in the upper left leg Jan. 17 at his home in Knoxville, Tenn.
Brentz, named the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs Most Valuable Player last season, had been slated to report to big league camp in mid-February. The accident relegated Brentz, 24, to reporting to minor league camp in early March instead.
Bryce Brentz played most of 2012 with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs before a late promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket.
"I can't take it back," said Brentz, who started in right field Wednesday afternoon for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox against the Rochester Red Wings, Triple-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. "It's done, and it's done. I have to move on and get back to baseball."
The good news: Other than some minimal bleeding and a bruise that took three weeks to heal, Brentz missed no baseball time this spring training with his fellow minor leaguers. Brentz described how he hurt himself.
"There was a little miscommunication between me and my brother," said Brentz, who was going to clean the gun in the evening time. "I thought it was unloaded. He had actually just chambered it. It accidentally discharged on me."
Brentz called for an ambulance, not knowing the severity of the wound.
"I just wanted to make sure I wasn't bleeding bad," he said. "If I had hit that femoral artery, I could have been in trouble. I also wanted to make sure it wasn't that big, that I hadn't hit the bone. It ended up not being that big of a deal. I could walk.
"I had no problems as far as flexibility and strength. Agility-wise, everything's 100 percent."
While riding to the hospital, the paramedic had Brentz roll over.
"She asked me if it was a nine," Brentz said, meaning a nine-millimeter bullet. It turned out to be a .40 caliber bullet, slightly bigger than the nine. Brentz then removed the bullet himself.
"It's at home," he said.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest amount of pain, Brentz said he rated the gunshot wound a 6 or 7.
Brentz said he has put the accident behind him. His 2012 manager said Wednesday it has showed.
"I've only been around him for a couple of days of camp, and he looks good to me," said Portland Sea Dogs manager Kevin Boles, who worked with the Triple-A group on Wednesday. "He has a lot of upside. He has raw power. He has the chance to be a quality hitter. He has the chance to be a quality defender. He was solid for us last year in Portland."
Brentz hit .296 with 30 doubles, 17 home runs and 76 RBIs in 122 games last season for the Sea Dogs. He earned a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket on Aug. 30 and hit .118 (2-for-17) in five games.
"I enjoyed it," Brentz said of last season. "It was a good learning experience. I had to overcome some obstacles early on in the season."
The Red Sox selected Brentz with the 36th overall pick in the 2010 draft out of Middle Tennessee State.
"Being from the south, I had never played up in the north before," Brentz said. "I had never played up in that cold weather before. It was a better quality of pitching. At the lower levels, the pitching was a lot more predictable. Just taking a different approach day in and day out was the biggest change for me. But I felt like it was a special season. Getting a call up to Triple-A was a good experience."
The Red Sox will spend the next two weeks deciding upon the rosters at all levels of the minor leagues. Boles said he wouldn't be surprised if Brentz began this season in Triple-A.
"He was one of the better offensive performers," Boles said. "The turnaround that he made, he had a little bit of a struggle earlier in the season. He made some adjustments. There's cold, and then there's Portland cold. It's a different animal."
Midway through last season, Boles said he sensed a turning point in Brentz.
"One thing that stood out, we were playing against Reading (Penn.) and there was nobody on, and they threw him a 3-0 breaking ball to walk him," Boles said. "It showed the respect that they had for him, because he can do damage. He has learned to work the count. He put together some quality at-bats.
"He's really strong. He's ridiculously strong. It's incredible. His strength is off the charts."
Asked how far away he felt from the big leagues, a serious expression spread across the 6-foot, 190-pounder's face.
"My opinion and what the front office thinks might be two different ones," Brentz said. "It's out of my hands. I try not to think about that. I do think I need to get a little more experience and get some at-bats at Triple-A. But I think we both agree I'm not that far away."
Boles said Brentz had a few things he needed to clean up before making his way to the big leagues, a destination Boles did not doubt for Brentz.
"Game management, understanding what the situations are and making the right decisions to take care of the baseball," Boles said. "Keeping the runners off second base. The higher you move up, you've got to keep runners out of scoring position. He's starting to get that understanding."