Matt Imhof, a Phillies minor-league pitcher, had surgery Tuesday to remove his right eye after suffering a serious injury in a freak accident last week during an exercise after a minor-league game in Florida.
The pitcher was struck in the face by a resistance band that was anchored to a wall. The mounted base broke off the wall and damaged Imhof's right eye. He had surgery at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami to replace his eye with a prosthetic one. His agent said there are more procedures to come.
Imhof said his doctors told him that his right eye was "crushed like a grape." They tried to reconstruct it, but Imhof knew he would likely never regain sight in the eye. Imhof said removing the eye gave him the best chance to "live a normal life."
"This has been the hardest week of my life but I've had amazing support from my family and friends to help me get through it," Imhof wrote on Instagram. "For those who have been wishing me well, your support has not gone unnoticed and I appreciate everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers. I had the best doctors in the world doing their best work on me and for that I am grateful as well."
The Phillies drafted Imhof in the second round in 2014. The 22-year-old lefthander recently was moved to the bullpen with high-A Clearwater. He has a 3.69 ERA in 173 career innings.
His career would likely be over if he was a hitter, but Imhof might choose to continue. Julio Urias, a pitching phenom with the Dodgers, is nearly blind in his left eye.
"Although this injury has been tough, it could have been much worse. I'm lucky to still have vision in my left eye. I'm lucky that I didn't have brain damage. And I'm lucky to be surrounded my the most loving and understanding people in the world," Imhof wrote.
"I just wanted to write this message to let everyone know that even though I suffered some bad luck, I'm not dead. I'm going to be alright, I'm going to persevere, and I'm going to succeed. It takes more than this to bring me down. Again thanks to everyone for the support."
Here is the full Instagram post: