Phillies

Phillies

Matt Imhof, the left-handed pitcher the Phillies drafted in the second round in 2014, announced his retirement Wednesday, seven months after suffering a gruesome training accident that resulted in the loss of his right eye.

Imhof announced he's moving on in a revealing and powerful first-hand account of the incident at ESPN.com.

In it, Imhof describes the agony and fear he felt in those initial moments after the freak accident, which forced him to undergo two eye surgeries.

"It was my normal postgame routine to use exercise bands after I pitched. They were already hooked to the wall when I walked into the athletic training room, so I grabbed them and started my workout.

"Same thing, different day.

"It was the fifth repetition on the second set of my third exercise. I was facing the wall, about 25-30 feet away from it, with a band in each hand. I pulled them back hard above my head so that my right hand was above my right ear and my left hand was above my left ear. As I got to the top of my motion, I felt the tension break.

"It's a surreal moment; the moment you realize you're screwed and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it."

Imhof described hitting rock bottom — he was depressed, scared and angry that baseball had been taken away from him. 

"I wasn't Matt Imhof anymore; I was a shell of him," he told ESPN. "The real Matt Imhof died in that training room along with his future. The only thing that defined me now was an injury."

 

But after being picked up by one of his surgeons, Imhof broke out of his funk and focused on moving forward.

"I had to relearn how to walk down stairs, how to drive and even how to play catch," he wrote. "Routine things like walking in crowds became hard, but I soon realized the physical limitations of my injury weren't the only things standing in my way of a normal life.

"I eventually figured out that the only way for other people to see me without seeing my injury was if I was able to do it first. ... My identity used to be wrapped around baseball, it was who I was. This injury allowed me to see past that. I might not want the same things as I used to, but that's only because I have learned more about myself than I ever thought I would."

Imhof is now back in school at Can Poly San Luis Obispo, taking classes in business finance and serving as the undergraduate assistant pitching coach for the baseball team. 

He's unsure what the future holds, but his playing days are over.

The ESPN piece is well worth reading and can be found here.