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Matt Shoemaker ready to return to mound following line drive


    Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker throws against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning of a baseball game in Seattle.

OAKLAND, Calif. >> Matt Shoemaker no longer thinks about that line drive that hit him above the right ear last September in Seattle.

He will make his first start since when he takes the ball for the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night at Oakland — exactly six months to the day after his frightening injury. He now wears protective headgear.

“That’s what I think is great about it, because I’m not thinking about it at all,” Shoemaker said Monday. “It’s not even a thought. I just go out there and I’m pitching, which I’m very thankful for. I don’t mind talking about it. It doesn’t bother me talking about it.”

Shoemaker underwent surgery to stop bleeding on his brain immediately after he was struck in the head by a line drive from the Mariners’ Kyle Seager on Sept. 4. The Angels traveled to Oakland without him, while Los Angeles athletic trainer Adam Nevala stayed with Shoemaker in Seattle until he was able to travel.

He was 9-13 with a 3.88 ERA in 27 starts and 160 innings last season before his season ended. He wants to carry off how he was pitching down the stretch before then.

“Matty, what he went through is something that you just pray no player let alone pitcher has to go through,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “When you talk about injuries and all of a sudden you talk about life-threatening injuries, it’s just a different thing. And it’s remarkable really from Day 1 going out there throwing to hitters in spring training I think he showed early that there’s no residual effect of what happened and he’s going to go out there and pitch well.”

Shoemaker doesn’t even get many questions from strangers about that scar by his ear where his hair is shaved short, because “it’s still fairly fresh in the sense of time, whatever it’s been, six months or so, so usually the people I see are usually most of the time people that already know this happened,” he said.

As far as the headgear, the 30-year-old is getting used to it. He debated using a clip to keep it in place, but realizes he might just have to readjust it the times he takes off his cap.

“Not too big of a deal,” he said. “You never want these kind of things to happen. But just get through it and get going again.”

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