Luis Salazar Return to Braves Camp Feeling “Lucky to be alive”

March 24, 2011 – 9:20 am by Chris Fedor

In one of the more amazing stories of spring training, Atlanta Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar was able to return to Braves camp yesterday. Two weeks ago this might not have seemed like a legitimate possibility. If you haven’t heard the story, Salazar was standing on the top step of the dugout during a spring training game between the Braves and Cardinals and was struck by a line drive off the bat of Atlanta catcher Brian McCann. Salazar was knocked unconscious and airlifted to a nearby hospital, and despite losing his left eye, Salazar is alive and is expected to rejoin his Class A sometime in April.

Luis Salazar joined WCNN in Atlanta with Buck and Kincade to talk about his return to Braves camp after getting hit in the face with a line drive, the kind of support he got from people in the organization, and how much he has talked to Brian McCann since the incident.

On his return to Braves camp after getting hit in the face with a line drive and losing his eye:

“It is. I’m very fortunate to come to the clubhouse this morning and see all the players and coaching staff. It means a lot to bring me down here. The Braves organization has supported me from the beginning and the first thing that happened. I would like to thank the fans of the Atlanta Braves for praying for me in those days what happened, the incident. I’m very lucky to be alive and lucky to talk to you right now. The best news that I got from the doctor is nothing happened to my brain. That’s the key.”

How much support he has gotten and who he has gotten it from:

“I think closer to everyone. I have a lot of relatives and family and have a lot of good friends through my coaching career. There were a lot of people praying for me and calling me from outside the United States, Venezuela and everywhere. I think that’s the reason I had the strength for my recovery. It meant a lot to me when I saw a lot of people from the Atlanta Braves organization stopping by the hospital from the top of the organization on down. I would like to thank the Atlanta Braves organization for the support and prayers for my health and to give me the strength and opportunity to work for one of the greatest organizations in all of baseball.”

How much he has talked to Brian McCann since the accident:

“This is a very sensitive kid, a nice kid. He called me the other day. I heard when the incident happened he took himself out of the game, rushed to the hospital to spend three hours with my wife and my family down there. Gave him a big hug and my wife just talked to him and she said ‘hey Brian this incident is nothing you can control and the nice news, the great news is that he is alive.’ Then after that, down the road, about five or six days later when I got released from the hospital he called me and wanted to come by and visit me at the hotel. He drove by, spent three hours with us, talking about everything, baseball, my career, and we remember those days. I told Brian ‘hey Brian you have to keep going and I know you’re going to have a great season. The worst part is over. You have to look at me now. I’m talking to you, I’m alive, and I thank God to give me this second chance for a reason and second chance to be a part of the Atlanta Braves organization.’ And take over the manager job for the Lynchburg Hillcats.”

Listen to Luis Salazar on WCNN in Atlanta here

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