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Former Guilford High Star Gets His At Bat

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<> at Marlins Park on October 2, 2012 in Miami, Florida.

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By STEVEN WINE    AP Sports Writer

MIAMI (AP) _ Adam Greenberg’s second major league plate
appearance went a lot better than the first one, even though he
struck out.

Returning to the big leagues seven years after he was beaned,
Greenberg fanned on three pitches Tuesday night as a pinch-hitter
for the Miami Marlins.

Greenberg signed a one-day contract before the game and batted
leading off the sixth inning against New York Mets 20-game winner
R.A. Dickey.

After Greenberg received a standing ovation from the modest
crowd and his teammates, Dickey threw him three consecutive
knuckleballs. Greenberg took the first for a strike, then swung at
the next two and missed.

The game was Greenberg’s first since his major league debut with
the Chicago Cubs in 2005, when he was hit in the back of the head
by the first pitch he saw _ a 92 mph fastball that derailed his
career.
The 31-year-old Greenberg took part in batting practice and then
watched the early innings from the bench. After Rob Brantly
homered, he received a celebratory chest bump from a grinning
Greenberg in the dugout.

By the fifth inning, Greenberg had a bat in his hands as he
paced in the dugout. In the sixth, manager Ozzie Guillen sent him
up to bat for outfielder Bryan Petersen.

He swung under an 80 mph knuckler for strike three, and the
crowd groaned, then renewed its cheers as Greenberg walked back to
the bench. He smiled as he received a hug and back slaps from Jose
Reyes, high fives from other teammates and a whisper in the ear
from Guillen.

When Greenberg slipped his bat into the rack, he was still
grinning. Guillen replaced him in the lineup before the next
inning.

Greenberg said he was overwhelmed by the positive reception from
his new teammates, who pledged to treat him like any other rookie.
Catcher John Buck said Greenberg would don a USA Speedo, blue
tennis shoes and pink goggles for a pregame performance in the
clubhouse.
“I’ve got to go sing and dance in front of them like a real
rookie,” Greenberg said. “That, to be honest, is what I’m more
nervous about.”

The 5-foot-9 Greenberg said he hoped the game marks only the
beginning of a career comeback. He didn’t play in the minor leagues
this year and hasn’t been with a major league organization since
2008, but he still harbors hopes of a big league job.

Greenberg recently played for Israel in the qualifying round of
the World Baseball Classic.
“Hopefully there is going to be a lot more of this. This is
good stuff,” Greenberg said at a pregame news conference. “I want
to show everyone I can play, although you can never really truly do
that in one at-bat, especially if it ends up being against
Dickey.”

Several Marlins played with Greenberg in the minors as he
struggled to recover from his beaning.
“He was a good player, and for it to be ruined on one pitch is
a tough blow, if you will,” Buck said. “But he has fought back.

This is one of those good stories for young kids and what baseball
is about _ enduring to the end, and making the most of your
opportunity.”

The Greenberg signing was a rare feel-good story for the
last-place Marlins, who have endured the most disappointing season
in the franchise’s 20-year history. They gave Greenberg jersey No.
10, a more prestigious number than the No. 66 he recalled wearing
in Cubs spring training.

The outfielder made his big league debut with the Cubs in Miami
on July 9, 2005, and was hit by a pitch thrown by Marlins
left-hander Valerio De Los Santos. He sustained a concussion that
caused vision problems, vertigo and headaches lasting hours at a
time, and it was nearly two years before he regained full health.
“I was concerned more with the quality of my life than playing
ball,” he said. “It was a tough time.”

He married, started a health-supplement business and played in
the independent Atlantic League. A recent online campaign known as
“One At Bat” lobbied for Greenberg to get a second chance in the
majors, and the Marlins last week offered him an opportunity to
play in the next-to-last game of their season.

For seven years, Greenberg was one of only two players to be hit
by a pitch in his lone big league appearance and never take the
field. The other was Fred van Dusen with the Philadelphia Phillies
in 1955.

Van Dusen flew down from his home in Franklin, Tenn., to attend
Tuesday’s game. He threw out the first pitch and joined the rest of
the crowd applauding Greenberg’s comeback.
“Life throws you curveballs,” Greenberg said. “Mine threw me
a fastball at 92, and it hit me in the back of the head. I got up
from it, and my life is great.”

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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