Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/4/12

It was a grisly incident, but Detroit Tigers left-hander Darin Downs doesn't mind retelling it.

Reaching the major leagues three years after suffering a skull fracture when hit by a line drive "is kind of a feel-good story for me."

The tale has not reached its completion yet, but Downs at least has a feeling of accomplishment after making his major league debut Tuesday night on the day Detroit purchased his contract from Class AAA Toledo. He pitched a scoreless inning in the Tigers' 8-6 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

The journeyman Downs, 27, spent 2 1/2 weeks in a hospital in 2009 after a blistering line drive hit him flush in the left side of the head and shattered his skull during a late-season Class AA game in Alabama, causing internal bleeding and brain swelling.

He was told he might never talk again, let alone play baseball.

"I came so far from that moment," Downs said, "being so close to not making it to being here now."

He ultimately went home and didn't do much for quite a while.

"Post-concussion syndrome was not my friend," he said. "I was kind of depressed. I was tired all the time. I slept, and was like, 'Man, I'm not gonna play again. I am scared to go back out there.'"

Downs learned how to talk again and amazingly went back to spring training in 2010 with Tampa Bay.

"I started going through rehab and stuff and tried to get my stamina back and everything," he said. "Once I got to spring training, I was a little timid throwing live batting practice and everything. After that, I was just like, 'Whatever's going to happen is going to happen. It's like one in a million. How many guys today will throw a pitch and nothing happens?' I just kind of took it like that and got after it."

With Detroit trailing 8-6 and a man on first in the ninth, Downs was brought in for the appearance that will put him in the Baseball Encyclopedia forever.

He walked one of the four batters he faced but got out of the ninth with no further trouble.

"I was a little nervous running out of the bullpen," he said. "I just tried to focus on the task at hand. Reflection is for later. I'm just blessed to be here."

Downs was signed by the Tigers last winter as a minor league free agent. His spring exposure was limited because of a blister on his pitching hand.

Now he hopes to emulate Quintin Berry, another 27-year-old who came for a cup of coffee and so far looks as if he'll be with the Tigers for supper.

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