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What They Were Thinking

Pitcher explains pain from ball hit off face

Lowell Spinners lefthander Brian Johnson left Fenway Park after being struck in the eye socket by a line drive by Hudson Valley's Joey Pickard.

Stan Grossfeld/Globe Staff

Lowell Spinners lefthander Brian Johnson left Fenway Park after being struck in the eye socket by a line drive by Hudson Valley's Joey Pickard.

Every Sunday, Boston Globe photographer Stan Grossfeld asks the subject of one of his photos to explain what’s happening in the shot.

Up this week: Brian Johnson of the Lowell Spinners, who was struck in the eye socket by a line drive by Hudson Valley's Joey Pickard on the the second pitch he threw in the first inning of a Futures At Fenway game on Aug. 18. Johnson suffered multiple orbital fractures to the left side of his face.

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Said Johnson: “I was really looking forward to pitching at Fenway. It was awesome, warming up in the pen. The best part about it was as I walked up to the mound the first step I took my song ‘Bad Company,’ came on, and I had a big smile on my face. The second pitch I left a fastball over the middle and it came back right where it left. I saw it the last second. I tried to get my glove up and looking at the video I missed it by a three or four inches. To be honest, I didn’t feel it, as weird as that sounds. It hit me, my ears started ringing and I put hand over my eye because I felt blood. I didn’t feel a thing. I think I was in shock, to be honest. I was looking for the ball, but I couldn’t see the ball, so I looked at the dugout and I saw them running out so I went down to my knees. When I was on the ground the trainers were talking to me and I was literally making jokes. Like ‘Oh I left that one over the middle.’ I remember waving to the fans. I was in the hospital and the doctor told me (it was the anniversary of Tony Conigliaro’s beaning). That’s unbelievable. Ironic, huh? They gave me some pain medicine but I don’t take it. All I take is one Tylenol a day and that’s it. No surgery, I got a black eye and it looks like my wisdom teeth got taken out but other than that, I’m looking good.

“I’ve been hit before. My first outing this season I got through the first inning pretty smoothly. In the second inning, the second guy hit a slider right back at me and got me in the calf. I didn’t want to leave but they said I had to for precautionary reasons. In college my sophomore year pitching (for the University of Florida) in the SEC tournament against Georgia I threw a curveball in the dirt. I didn’t see the runner break. Mike Zunino our catcher threw and I ducked down looking at first base and the ball hit me right in the back of the head. On that one I went unconscious. Oh and I broke my nose when I was 12 year old sliding into second base. The left fielder threw it and the second baseman missed it and it hit me right in the face.

“I’m positive I want to do this (for a living). I’m going to keep coming back. This is right in the point of my career where I could use some good luck to get to the major leagues. Let’s hope I get some good luck starting now. “

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