Rowand's hustle still appreciated
Former teammates respect center fielder's all-out play
MINNEAPOLIS -- As White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen watched a replay of Aaron Rowand's amazing Willie Mays-like effort from Thursday night's game in Philadelphia, he immediately thought of the many moments when Rowand sacrificed life and limb to make plays for him and the White Sox during the past two seasons.
When Guillen saw Rowand, admittedly one of his favorite players, bent over in pain, with blood pouring from his face, his reaction quickly turned from appreciation to shock.
"I went from, 'What a play' to 'Oh, no,'" said Guillen, recounting his reaction before Friday's series opener at the Metrodome. "You don't want to see that happen to anybody, especially when you got a great relationship with the guy. It's really unfortunate.
"That's what I was worried about having him here all the time. That's the way he plays. That's the way people should play the game."
The story on Rowand, who clearly is one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball, was that he would run through a wall to make a catch. That depiction basically came to fruition Thursday night.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the first inning, the Mets' Xavier Nady launched a full-count offering to center that Rowand caught over-the-shoulder, on the dead run, saving the Phillies in a 2-0, rain-shortened victory at Citizens Bank Park. The aftershocks of the play, though, temporarily overshadowed the great effort.
Rowand had surgery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Friday to repair a broken nose, broke in three places, according to White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. He also suffered non-displaced fractures around his left eye and received 15 stitches for lacerations to his face.
"My first concern was that he was as good as he can be," said Pierzynski, a close friend of Rowand from their season together with the White Sox. "They basically had to repair the whole left side of his face pretty much."
Pierzynski spoke to Rowand on Friday morning, while many others sent text messages to Rowand's cell phone. The visitors' clubhouse was filled with concerned players in regard to Rowand's condition.
There also wasn't a surprised individual among the White Sox in seeing the incredible effort put forth by Rowand or the resulting crash into the chain-link portion of the center-field fence. Brian Anderson, who took over for Rowand in center, said it was watching Rowand make all those crazy plays that helped him feel comfortable picking up a few bruises of his own in order to make the play.
"That guy never ceases to amaze me," said Anderson of his mentor. "He will literally run into anything for a ball. You can take Torii Hunter and Andruw Jones, and they are amazing athletes and they can climb walls and that sort of stuff.
"But you have to be a [tough guy] to do that kind of stuff. He face-planted into that wall. The guy, his body comes second. He wants to catch the ball no matter where it is. He rubbed off on me a lot. That's my mentality. Who better to learn from than him?"
Guillen also pointed out that Rowand would have been back in action Friday if not for the surgery. He was that kind of player with the White Sox and hasn't changed with the Phillies.
"You see him play for you every day, you see that type of play on TV, that's not a shock," Guillen said. "People have to look in the mirror and know that baseball is not easy and you can't take anything for granted.
"At any minute, you can get hurt. You need one second to be out of this game. Players have to appreciate this game every minute they play."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.