Pena at ease after visiting Byrd in hospital

Pena at ease after visiting Byrd in hospital

Pena at ease after visiting Byrd in hospital
BOSTON -- Carlos Pena knew he couldn't relax until he knew his Cubs teammate, Marlon Byrd, was all right.

Byrd was struck by an Alfredo Aceves fastball under his left eye in the second inning of Saturday's game against the Red Sox and suffered multiple facial fractures. Pena had flashbacks to what happened to Juan Encarnacion, who was struck in the left eye in September 2007, and Braves Minor League coach Luis Salazar, who lost his left eye earlier this year when he was hit by a foul ball in the dugout.

"You're worrying, 'Man, is he going to be able to see?' Pena said. "One of the things he was yelling is, 'I can't see out of my left eye.' All I'm thinking about is a couple guys I know who have similar injuries very recently."

The good news is that Byrd could see Pena when he stopped by to visit, even though he said his vision was still fuzzy. Even better, Byrd was hungry and eating pizza in the hospital.

"He's doing well," Pena said of the Cubs outfielder. "He's a tough kid. When you see an injury like that, you want to be as optimistic as possible, but all you think is the worst. I was very fearful for his vision, for his eye, for damage to his head."

When Pena arrived at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Byrd was sitting up slightly and able to talk.

"When I saw him, I took a deep breath and it was a relief," Pena said. "He was hungry. He said, 'I'm so hungry.' I said, 'Good.' I know when stuff like that happens, usually the last thing you want to do is eat.

"To see him conscious and cracking a smile, now I could relax a little."

It was a scary moment not just for the Cubs and Red Sox but also for the 37,798 fans at Fenway Park, who made what Pena called a scary noise as Byrd fell to the dirt, writhing in pain.

"You fear the worst -- no matter how positive you are, you fear the worst for your friend," Pena said. "I'm so relieved and so thankful I saw him [at the hospital] and he was way better than I thought he was going to be. I expect him to be back with us pretty soon, even if it's just to hang out. I know the guys will be very happy to see him walking around and smiling and seeing Marlon even if he has a black eye."

The rest of the game, several of the Red Sox players kept asking Pena for an update on Byrd, whose wife, Andrea, was in Boston and with her husband at the hospital. Byrd never lost consciousness and was to fly back to Chicago with the team after Sunday's game.

Byrd will see several specialists during the week, and there's no timetable for his return. The good news is that his vision seemed OK.

"Last night, he told me he could see me," Pena said. "[He said], 'I see you -- you're blurry, but I see you.'"

That was what Pena needed to hear.