Greenberg eases toward return

Greenberg eases toward return

CHICAGO -- Imagine being unable to bend down and tie your shoes because of dizziness. Or being afraid to take a shower because if you tilt your head back just so, you start to spin. Don't even think about facing 90-plus mph fastballs.

That's been Adam Greenberg's life since he was hit on the head by a pitch on July 9 as a pinch-hitter for the Chicago Cubs. Greenberg was struck by the first pitch in his first Major League at-bat, an errant fastball from Florida's Valerio de los Santos. Greenberg fell to the ground, clutching the back of his head.

"I've never been more scared in my life," he said the next day. "I thought my head was split open, I really did."

Since then, he's had at least two CT scans, rehabbed in Mesa, Ariz., and returned to Double-A West Tenn where he played in six games, going nine innings in four of them. But he was still dizzy. The late-night bus rides, different doctors in different states, and uneasiness over his headaches and wooziness bothered him. He returned to Mesa to see a familiar doctor.

On Monday, Greenberg got good news: He's OK.

"[Monday] was an unbelievable day for me," he said in a phone interview on Tuesday. "Today, I'm like a normal person."

Greenberg has no intention of being the next Moonlight Graham. Immortalized in the movie "Field of Dreams," Graham took over in right field as a defensive replacement in one game in 1905. He never had an at-bat. That was his only big league game, too. Graham retired from baseball and became a doctor, practicing in Chisholm, Minn., for 50 years.

Greenberg's big league line reads one game, no at-bat, but an on-base percentage of 1.000. He had been called up the day before with Matt Murton. The two were added to the Cubs' big league roster after Corey Patterson and Jason Dubois had been optioned to the Minor Leagues after the July 7 game. Funny thing is, the Cubs wanted to add Felix Pie and not Greenberg, but Pie had a sore right ankle and wasn't available. Greenberg got the call.

His family flew from Connecticut to Florida for Greenberg's first big league series. It was quick -- one pitch.

On July 9 in Miami, Greenberg was pinch-hitting for pitcher Will Ohman with one out in the ninth. He never saw the pitch.

"When you see it now, you think, 'Could I have gotten out of the way?' but it happened so fast," Greenberg said the day after. "I get in the box, and all of a sudden he throws it, and I'm thinking, 'Am I swinging?' and all of a sudden, bam."

He went home for the All-Star break, returned to Chicago to be examined and was then sent to Mesa and joined the Cubs' rookie league team to work out under a controlled environment.

He did return to West Tenn, played one game and had a relapse. He was able to play a couple innings in consecutive games, and then played nine innings in four games.

"All it did was reassure me I will be fine," he said. "I was able to play nine innings."

He's still bothered by vertigo, which is natural considering the force of the fastball to his head.

"You can equate it with dizziness," he said. "If I leaned down or put my head back it was hard to focus at a particular time."

He isn't sure what the timetable is now. Cubs athletic trainer Mark O'Neal said it's up to Greenberg on how he feels as to how he'll progress.

The most important thing is he's normal.

"At least now I've gotten everything I could ask for," he said. "It's not so much a different doctor's opinion but a method to get me well. I'm thrilled to death right now. They told me I can get back out and play in a game."

Greenberg now has specific exercises to do to help deal with the vertigo.

"[The doctor] said even if it happens in a game, I can go in and lay on the trainer's table and take care of it," he said.

What Greenberg will do is lie on his back with his head hanging off the table. He'll turn it to the right, then jerk his head back quickly to the left. Then he rolls on his side and then his stomach and looks at the floor. Somehow, it works to jolt the fluids and improve his equilibrium. Don't try this at home. If you have problems with dizziness or vertigo, see a doctor.

"It flushes the crystals or rocks or sand or whatever I have," Greenberg said. "It worked like magic [Monday]."

At 24, Greenberg's baseball career is ahead of him. He knows that now. The outfielder batted .291 at Class A Daytona and .277 at West Tenn last year, and was hitting .276 in 80 games with West Tenn this season.

"They've reassured me there's no fracture, nothing major or serious going on with my health," he said. "I was waking up every morning worried about putting my head back or just taking a shower."

He wants to finish the Minor League season at West Tenn, and doesn't plan on stopping there.

"I'm never going to lose hope that I can go back to Chicago and play for the Cubs," he said. "At least, I hope so. I just have to go out and play healthy."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.