Rzepczynski cleared to throw after eye injury
Cards lefty still dealing with blurred vision, but should have no permanent damage
JUPITER, Fla. -- Three days after injuring his left eye during a round of golf, Marc Rzepczynski was granted clearance from an eye doctor to resume throwing off the mound on Monday.
After nearly three days of rest, the Cardinals' lefty made a stop in the clubhouse on Monday. From there he went with trainer Greg Hauck for a follow-up visit to the eye doctor who saw him shortly after the incident happened on Friday.
The doctor told Rzepczynski that his eye was 80-90 percent improved since the last visit and gave him permission to resume driving, throwing and lying down. Rzepczynski suffered no damage to his retina.
"Being able to throw off a mound is the best thing I've heard since Friday," Rzepczynski said. "It's looking better. He said there should be no permanent damage."
Rzepczynski said that he hopes to play catch on Tuesday. He will not, though, get on the mound right away.
"We're just going to be patient on this because it's a little bit [of a] unique injury, and give him a couple more days," general manager John Mozeliak said from Tampa, where the Cardinals faced the Yankees on Monday. "But hopefully by the end of the week, he's back and able to throw a 'pen."
Because there is still inflammation in his eye, Rzepczynski has been told not to work out or do anything that causes much physical exertion. That includes no appearances in Grapefruit League games. Rzepczynski will see the eye doctor again on Wednesday, and hopes to get game clearance then.
As long as there is still inflammation, Rzepczynski will be dealing with blurred vision. He is also unlikely to wear contacts for some time, which could require that the reliever invest in some eye wear to use on the field.
"I have a pretty good abrasion on the eye," Rzepczynski said. "I can see stuff out of it, but I can't see it clear. It's like I have a really bad prescription right now."
Though Monday's visit helped assure Rzepczynski that he won't suffer any long-term effects from the injury, it did not eliminate questions about his readiness for Opening Day, which sits three weeks away. Rzepczynski, who had been slowed by left biceps tightness earlier in camp, has pitched only four innings so far this spring.
Rzepczynski will never know exactly what stung his eye after he took his second swing during a golfing outing with teammates Randy Choate, Seth Maness and Lance Lynn. Rzepczynski is fairly confident that he wasn't struck by the golf ball -- since that traveled about 50 feet away from him -- so he assumes a piece of dirt or debris just kicked up and went into his eye.
"I also look back on it, too, if it was a ball, I probably wouldn't be here right now," Rzepczynski added. "I'd probably be getting my eye operated on. It had to be a piece of dirt that ricocheted off a tree. I have no idea. I hate that it happened off the field, but I'm happy to have most of my eyesight back."
Rzepczynski had trouble opening his eye on Friday, but the swelling had subsided significantly by Monday. His eye was no longer bloody either, though part of it was still red from the inflammation. He spent his weekend stuck in his condo doing anything that didn't require him to move his head.
He slept sitting up with the assistance of four pillows and sometimes wore an eye patch in order to keep a straight line of vision. By ensuring that his head stayed level, Rzepczynski was able to make sure blood didn't rush to the back of his eye.
"Big, big, big improvement," Rzepczynski said. "I'm very happy to where it's come."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.