A scary fluke play literally cut short slugger Tyler Colvin’s promising rookie year last season with the Chicago Cubs.
Colvin, who had 20 home runs and 56 RBIs in a reserve role, suffered a collapsed lung after his chest was punctured by the sharp end of a broken bat during a Sept. 19 game at the Florida Marlins.
He has since recovered but bears scars on the spots where his chest was pierced and doctors inserted a pump to inflate his lung.
“I’m fine now. Everything’s great. But it was pretty scary there for a little bit,” Colvin said Saturday before batting third and going 4-for-5 with an RBI in Chicago’s 9-8 exhibition loss to the Cincinnati Reds before a crowd of 9,047 at Cashman Field.
“The doctors were great in Miami. They took very good care of me,” said Colvin, 25. “I was home within a week, and I just had to sit around and wait until everything healed up. I started working out a month and a half after that, so it was good.”
As he did last season for the Cubs, Colvin is expected to see action at all three outfield spots this year while backing up projected starters Kosuke Fukudome, Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano.
“We have four great guys out there that were here last year,” he said. “They’re big-name guys, and they’ve proven themselves. I’m just happy to get any playing time I can.”
But manager Mike Quade doesn’t want to label the former first-round draft pick as a “fourth outfielder.”
“That automatically makes him a bench player. We’re hoping he’s better than that,” Quade said. “The best way to say it is I’ve got four guys who are going to play a lot.
“We’ll try to mix and match and get guys their time and get guys their rest.”
The 6-foot-2-inch, 210-pound Colvin, a left-handed power hitter, also could see action at first base, where he’ll start for the Cubs today at Cashman Field in an exhibition game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Colvin had a torrid spring last season, batting .468 with 18 RBIs in 25 games. He was hitting .192 (5-for-26) this spring before ripping four singles as the designated hitter Saturday to raise his average to .290.
“Last year was great. I felt like I couldn’t get out,” Colvin said. “This year is different. I’m working on my approach and learning a new position to help back up.”
Colvin, drafted 13th overall in 2006 out of Clemson, hit .254 and slugged .500 in 135 games last season for Chicago. But Quade said he has the potential to do much more.
“You feel like 20 to 30 homers is a possibility year in, year out if he does what he’s capable of,” he said. “This guy could hit .300 and hit 30 homers some day.
“He’s a guy we’re real excited about for years to come.”
n NOTES — Cincinnati infielder Kris Negron lined a two-run, bases-loaded single with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Reds (9-5) the victory. Joey Votto, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, went 1-for-1 with an RBI single and a walk. The Cubs (6-9) were led by shortstop Starlin Castro, who went 3-for-3 with two two-run homers, and infielder Scott Moore, who went 4-for-4 with two solo shots. Legendary Dodgers play-by-play man Vin Scully will call today’s game from Cashman Field for Prime (50).
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354.CINCINNATI 9, CHICAGO 8KEY: Kris Negron’s two-run single in the bottom of the ninth lifted the Reds to victory.NEXT: Cubs (RHP Carlos Zambrano) vs. Dodgers (RHP Rubby De La Rosa), 1 p.m. today, Cashman Field