It’s been more than eight months since Diamondbacks reliever Evan Marshall suffered a frightening head surgery after being hit by a comebacker while he was pitching for the Reno Aces.
While time has healed him, he couldn’t shake the significance of his first major league appearance Sunday night.
“After that first (appearance) in spring training I really stopped thinking about coming back, the recovery was over. There was no major milestone anymore every time I got on the mound,” Marshall told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM on Monday, his 26th birthday. “Yesterday coming into the game, you come through the gates in center field, you see beautiful Petco Park and you’re in San Diego, you’re in the big leagues. I took a second to remember everything I went through and not to take what I was going through for granted.”
Marshall couldn’t have pitched better in his return to the majors. After being joined by Diamondbacks starting pitcher Archie Bradley in a call-up late Saturday night, Marshall pitched the eighth and ninth innings and allowed no hits and two strikeouts to help Arizona beat the Padres, 7-3.
Whether or not he’s become a better pitcher after months of rehab is up for debate. But Marshall knows that the performance marked another of many key steps in his recovery from a serious head injury.
“It started with learning how to walk again and then it got all the way back to putting the right spin on the curveball,” he told Doug and Wolf. “There are so many steps that went on. I had such great doctors and man, they challenged the heck out of me. They held me to a higher standard and I’m so appreciative of that.
“Then it started with the lifting and the throwing and the running, Marshall added. “Since that was all I was allowed to do I got into really good shape. My arm feels good, I feel durable.”
The irony of Marshall being called up with Bradley isn’t lost on the pitchers, who Marshall said talk maybe once a week about their experiences.
Bradley suffered a less serious facial injury due to a comebacker while pitching for the D-backs on April 29, 2015.
He would return for four games following the injury but never looked the same and was sent down to Triple-A ball. Manager Chip Hale said this spring that the team regretted pushing Bradley to return so soon because his stuff wasn’t the same following the injury.
The right-handed Bradley starts opposite San Francisco Giants pitcher Jake Peavy in the Bay Area on Monday.