Making it onto the field in one piece was a step in the right direction for Bryce Brentz. Just playing wasn’t enough for the 24-year-old prospect, though. Instead, he decided to take two steps forward and produce.
Brentz made his spring training debut on Friday when the Red Sox kicked off their split-squad day with a game against the Orioles in Sarasota. The promising, young outfielder hadn’t played all spring because he was recovering from an accidental gunshot wound he suffered while cleaning his shotgun back in January. Brentz said at the time that the news came out about his accident that the injury wasn’t serious, but how could there not be a major level of concern when the organization’s sixth-ranked prospect puts a bullet in his leg?
Brentz’s incident inherently led to arguments regarding gun control, gun safety and a number of other hot political topics, but in an effort to keep the attention on baseball, let’s focus on what Friday’s debut meant for the Red Sox.
Overall, it’s just one game — and a spring training game at that. But the sight of Brentz returning to the diamond, and subsequently jacking one out of the yard in just his second at-bat, is enough to show that the January incident really is in the rearview mirror. Thus, the up-and-comer looks poised to make more strides in 2013.
Brentz said before his debut with the big club that he’s 100 percent healthy, and he even flew out to the warning track in a minor league spring training game on Wednesday. To actually see him out there and producing, all while being able to laugh off the unfortunate — and almost costly — accident is still refreshing, though.
Brentz played mostly at Double-A Portland last season before eventually making the leap to Triple-A Pawtucket. Now that he looks to be in a position to continue his development after a brief scare, there’s a chance the former first-round pick could be in line for a late season call-up if the need arises. At the very least, the Red Sox could work him into their 2014 plans.
Whatever the case may be, Brentz’s inability to start spring training with the major league club despite a non-roster invite had a chance to be very damaging to the outfielder’s baseball career. Fortunately, it doesn’t appear that’ll be the case, and Brentz is already focused on the task at hand.
“You get that first invite, you want to come in and make a good impression,” Brentz told reporters. “You hate to miss out on that, but you have to respect their decision. They haven’t seen my play yet, so I’m hoping to come in here and do some things well and showcase my skills.”
There are certainly no shortage of skills in Brentz’s game. While he does have some flaws — including marginal plate discipline — Brentz has plenty of pop in his bat and an above average arm in the outfield.
There also appears to be no shortage of mental toughness. While the January accident and the disastrous potential it had are no laughing matter, Brentz seems to understand that the past is the past, so there’s no use harping on it.
“What happened was an accident and I hate that put the publicity on the Red Sox and on myself. But it’s one of those things that happened,” Brentz said. “We both moved on and I’m happy to be here.”
Brentz will now do everything in his power to make sure the accident becomes a very minor footnote in a very successful major league career. We won’t know for a while if that’ll be the case, but the outfielder’s head is certainly in the right place.
Brentz obviously didn’t dodge a bullet from a literal standpoint, but given the position he’s in just two months later, the young outfielder certainly dodged one, figuratively speaking.
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Photo via Facebook/Bryce Brentz