Casey provides welcome sight
Rookie's eye is improving

Friday, April 17, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Sean Casey may begin taking batting practice next week.
(Saed Hindash photo)
| ZOOM |

Sean Casey was back in the Reds clubhouse Thursday, and judging by the reception he got from his teammates, he has been sorely missed.

"Hey, left-eye's back," Eduardo Perez said with a booming chuckle.

"You passed the initiation test," Eddie Taubensee joked as he walked by.

It was exactly two weeks ago the 23-year-old rookie was hit in the right eye with a thrown ball during a fielding drill, and just eight days since surgery to repair a broken orbital bone in his eye socket.

"It's nice to be back," Casey said. "I've had a lot of time to think the last few weeks. That's all I've been doing. I'm looking forward to getting to know these guys."

Of course, these were the same guys that took Good Samaritan Hospital by storm to see Casey after he was hit, so the warm arrival came as no surprise.

"That meant so much to me," Casey said of the visits. "I'd only been here two days, and they didn't know much about me, but they came to see me. That showed me a lot about these guys."

Casey says his vision is back to normal, although he has to wait a few more days until he can get his contact lenses in to see perfectly. Doctors don't anticipate any long-term vision problems.

Casey said the last three weeks have been quite a shock -- first the trade to the Reds just before Opening Day, then the injury just three days later.

"My whole world changed one day, then two days later it changed again," he said.

Casey, Damian Jackson and Barry Larkin were doing a double-play drill during batting practice April 2 when Jackson threw a ball to first base that Casey didn't see. Casey couldn't react before the ball hit him, but he said he remembers "someone yelling about half my name, like Cas_."

While he was lying on the ground in pain, he said, he knew he was seriously injured.

"I could hear (assistant trainer) Mark Mann talking to me, but I couldn't respond to what he was saying," Casey said. "The scariest thing was when I tried to open my eyes and I couldn't see anything."

The next day, things literally looked a whole lot better. He said his vision was blurry. but Eventually, the swelling went down and doctors repaired the broken bone.

Doctors will evaluate him Tuesday, and if all's well, he could begin taking batting practice next week. He may go on a rehabilitation assignment to Triple-A Indianapolis to get up to speed.

"He'll know when he's ready," manager Jack McKeon said.

McKeon doesn't guarantee Casey a starting spot once he's up to speed, but it would be hard to keep his potentially booming bat out of the lineup.

"I don't know yet," McKeon said. "We'll find a spot for him somewhere."

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