06/12/2002 01:33 am ET
Bierbrodt's condition is now good
Doctor's optimistic about recovery
By Paul C. Smith / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Nick Bierbrodt's condition has been upgraded to good
and he has been moved from Intensive Care at the Medical University of South
Carolina to a regular room.
Also, the doctor who tended to Bierbrodt said the Devil Rays pitcher is "a
significantly fortunate individual'' but he doesn't see any reason why Bierbrodt
would not be able to pitch again.
Dr. David Cole, Chief of Surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina,
said Bierbrodt has shown improvement in the last 24 hours.
"He is eating, in good spirits and is very cooperative,'' Cole said.
Cole said if all goes well, Bierbrodt could go home as early as this weekend.
Bierbrodt, a left-handed pitcher, was in Charleston, S.C. trying to pitch his
way back from a bout of wildness while with the Rays this spring. Just after 3
last Friday morning, while sitting in a taxi with two friends at a fast-food
drive-thru, Bierbrodt was shot twice by a bicyclist with a small-caliber weapon.
Cole said Bierbrodt was fortunate because one of the bullets missed Bierbrodt's
aorta by millimeters.
"If the bullet had hit his aorta, his chance of recovery would have been
significantly less,'' Cole said.
One bullet went through Bierbrodt's right arm and then his chest and the other
went straight into his chest. Both bullets are lodged in Bierbrodt's liver and
Cole has no plans to remove them.
"It would be a significant operation to go in and remove the bullet (near the
aorta),'' Cole said. "Unless there are problems, there are no reasons to go in
there and cause that much trauma.''
Cole added that both bullets missed every other major organ on their way through
The other aspect of luck, Cole said, was that the taxi driver took Bierbrodt
straight to the emergency room at the Medical University after the incident.
"He was fortunate to be within a close proximity to a Level One facility,'' Cole
said. "If he had been taken anywhere else, he would have had to be stabilized
and then airlifted, probably by helicopter, to a Level One facility for
immediate care. No one knows what would have happened in that time.''
Cole said the bullet that went through Beirbrodt's right arm only caused a flesh
injury and that no major muscles were damaged. Bierbrodt is headed for
rehabilitation, Cole said, and is expected to be just fine in time.
"He is going to have to work on his strength and try to get back his stamina,''
Cole said. "But I'm not aware of any injuries that would have any impact on his
"As for pitching next year, that's a reasonable goal.''
Bierbrodt also issued a statement late Tuesday:
"First, I would like the thank all the incredible people who went above and
beyond the call of duty and have helped me through this ordeal: My mom and the
entire family, my good friends Tim and Leila, the Devil Rays organization,
especially Dan Plante and the rest of the Charleston staff, the excellent
attending physicians and nurses and my agents, Doug Schaer and Jeff Liebster. To
my sisters, teammates and many wonderful friends, you love and support is
inspirational. I promise that I will be up and around and back on the hill
The Rays had a large get-well card set up at Gate 1 in Tropicana Field on
Tuesday night before the game against the Dodgers. Also, fans and well-wishers
can send a message by going to
Paul C. Smith covers the Devil Rays for MLB.com. This story was not subject
to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.