By John Tomase
February 6, 2003
Red Sox pitching prospect Chris Smith will miss at least five months after breaking two bones in his right forearm in a dune buggy accident last week in his native California.
According to Red Sox farm director Ben Cherington, Smith flipped his dune buggy on Jan. 3 in the Glamis Dunes, pinning his right (pitching) arm between the roll bar and ground. He suffered a compound fracture of the ulna and radius (both bones in the forearm), but team doctors say he didn’t suffer any muscle, nerve or tissue damage.
“That’s the good news,” Cherington said. “Bone damage should heal. Tissue is really the main thing you worry about as far as an injury being career threatening.”
Said Smith: “It felt like someone took out a can of gasoline, poured it on my arm and lit a match. All I could think was that I had a broken arm and I needed to get to a doctor. I didn't think about baseball until that night in the hospital.”
Smith, a 2002 fourth-round pick who signed for $280,000 out of UC Riverside, ranked 17th on Baseball America’s list of the Red Sox’ Top 30 prospects. Smith went 3-3, 4.13 in 57 innings over 14 starts for short-season Lowell last year.
The team felt he would pitch better this year after a lengthy rest, considering Smith led the Big West Conference with 136 innings during a 9-8, 2.91 campaign last spring.
“It’s frustrating,” said Cherington. “I don’t think we saw the real Chris Smith last year. We were looking forward to getting him rested and into spring training. Then we were going to see the real thing. Unfortunately, that’s going to be pushed back.”
Cherington said Smith won’t pitch until June at the earliest. His season could very well be over.
“The first thing he told me was, ‘I (expletived) up. I shouldn’t have been doing it,'” Cherington said.
Smith is currently wearing a soft cast and performing range of motion exercises. He’ll report to spring training on Feb. 14 to continue his rehab, which should progress to light strengthening exercises in early March. There’s no timetable for when he’ll resume throwing.
“I don’t view this as a setback,” Smith said. “This is a like a minor barrier I have to climb over. I can’t wait to get back to prove what I can do.”