- The Washington Times - Friday, April 10, 2009

SAN DIEGO (AP) - The San Francisco Giants are optimistic that pitcher Joe Martinez will recover relatively quickly from a concussion and three small fractures sustained when he was hit in the head by a line drive.

The rookie reliever was stable and alert in a San Francisco hospital Friday, and the Giants said he was expected to make a full recovery. The 26-year-old Martinez will remain hospitalized for observation over the next three or four days.

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said Martinez was in good spirits when the two talked by phone on Friday, and that his parents were with him.

“He said he can’t wait to come back,” Bochy said before the Giants opened a weekend series against the San Diego Padres. “I can’t tell you how long it will be before he’s back on the mound, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t pitching in a month. He’s expressed that he’s ready to get back to pitching.”

The right-hander was struck by Mike Cameron’s line drive on Thursday night, and sustained hairline fractures on the right side of his face. The accident occurred with two outs in the ninth inning of the Giants’ 7-1 win over Milwaukee.

“He’s a competitor,” Bochy said. “He’s a tough kid. After he went down, he got back up. It looked like he was looking for the ball. He’s got a great makeup.”

Cameron was encouraged by reports that Martinez would be OK.

“I’ve been keeping tabs on it,” Cameron said after Milwaukee’s 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday. “Everything is good, for starters.”

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said he hopes Cameron, who sustained a serious head injury in an outfield collision a few years ago, isn’t holding himself responsible for Martinez’s injury.

“It was obvious that Mike was bothered by it, so I hope that he’s fine,” Melvin said. “He’s been swinging the bat well. And the other part (is) that Joe Martinez is a young pitcher that’s worked his way to the big leagues, and it’s very unfortunate that he may have to spend time on the disabled list. We just hope he gets that other opportunity to come back and play.”

The Giants put Martinez on the 15-day disabled list and purchased the contract of right-hander Justin Miller from the minors.

Bochy, who used to manage the Padres, said that if Martinez needs some encouragement, he might ask San Diego right-hander Chris Young talk to the reliever about rebounding from such a scary injury.

Young was hit in the face by Albert Pujols’ line drive last May 21, breaking his nose and fracturing his skull. Young was sidelined for just more than two months.

Young said he’d be happy to talk with Martinez, if the Giants want him to.

“Hopefully, within a week he’ll be feeling better, and I think the sooner he jumps back up there, the better,” Young said. “It’s a scary situation, having been through it last year.”

Young saw replays of the accident and was glad to hear that the prognosis was good for Martinez’s return.

“That’s good, especially this early in the season,” Young said. “You hate to see it happen to anybody. It’s a scary, rare incident and hopefully he’ll come back with that in mind. That’s what I had to tell myself to step on the mound again, that it’s just a freak thing. Certainly there’s not a lot you can tell him, just try to get back up there and be aggressive and believe it was a one-time thing.”

The 6-foot-10 Young said he never saw the ball coming but knew from Pujols’ swing trajectory that he was going to get hit.

“For me, a little bit left, a little bit right, it could have put an eye out, it could have ended my career,” he said. “I think it’s one of the most traumatic injuries there can be in the game.”

___

AP Sports Writer Chris Jenkins in Milwaukee contributed to this report.

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