A shark attack hasn't kept Chad Rogers from getting back in the water, and 60 stitches in his right foot didn't take a lasting bite out of his land career.
"I love baseball and I love surfing," the Pensacola pitcher said. "I wasn't about to stop either."
The shark bite -- which occurred a couple of weeks after he had been taken by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2010 Draft -- delayed the start of his baseball journey. But the right-hander is making up for lost time.
Rogers went 3-1 with a 1.66 ERA after making it to Double-A late last season and is off to a strong start with Pensacola this season.
The 23-year-old Texas native has a 2.18 ERA in eight starts, and his record would be better than 2-2 if he hadn't been ejected for arguing a call at third base on Friday just an out short of completing the needed five innings to qualify for a victory against Mobile.
That misstep aside, Rogers is proving that the Reds made a smart move by taking him in the 28th round out of Galveston (Texas) Junior College and then signing him despite the shark bite.
Rogers was surfing in the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston when a bull shark bit down on his right foot as he was sitting on his board after catching a wave.
"It felt like a mouthful of needles grabbing my foot," he said. "The only way to get to shore was over him, so the scary part was paddling in. I thought I might get my hands bitten."
Fortunately, the shark swam off without going for Rogers' pitching hand.
After about five weeks of recuperation time, Rogers was able to throw for Reds scouts and show that his push-off foot had healed.
"I appreciate the Reds sticking with me," he said.
The story of the shark bite has stuck with Rogers as well, and he certainly doesn't shy away from it. His handle on Twitter is @sharkrogers.
"It was scary at the time, but it was just a freak thing," he said. "I've been surfing since I was 10 and I have a passion for it."
Playing for the Blue Wahoos puts Rogers back on the water, although he confines his activity to fishing in Escambia or Pensacola Bay and making an occasional trip to Pensacola Beach.
"This is a perfect place for me, and a great place to pitch," he said. "It's beautiful."
Of course, Rogers' goal is to take the mound for the Reds along the banks of the Ohio River, and he got a 2013 invitation to Spring Training, pitching in four Cactus League games.
"It was an awesome experience," he said.
Rogers' 2.90 ERA in 27 starts for Class A Advanced Bakersfield and Pensacola last year was second in the Reds organization to Tony Cingrani's 1.72 ERA -- the best in the Minors.
Rogers doesn't have Cingrani's dominant strikeout pitch, but he gets a lot of ground balls with a sinking, low-90s fastball and a power slider. A little more work on his changeup and the low-round Draft choice may be on his way to Cincinnati.
Unless he has a long Major League career, though, he'll likely always be remembered most as the pitcher bitten be a shark.
Still unbeaten: Mobile right-handed pitcher Archie Bradley, ranked No. 24 among MLB.com' Top 100 Prospects, improved to 3-0 with a 4-1 victory at Pensacola on Saturday and is 5-0 with a 1.11 ERA in nine combined starts this season with the BayBears and Class A Advanced Visalia. The seventh overall pick in the 2011 Draft by Arizona allowed five hits and one run over six innings against the Blue Wahoos, striking out five and walking two. Bradley, 20, has a 0.90 ERA in four starts for Mobile and has struck out 68 over 48 2/3 innings at his two stops this year. He is ranked as the Diamondacks' No. 2 prospect behind Reno left-hander Tyler Skaggs.
Dynamic duo: Chattanooga was last in the North Division, despite the Southern League's top one-two punch at the plate in outfielders Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig. Pederson, 21, led the league in average (.342), homers (eight) and runs scored (36) through Sunday and was second in slugging (.582). Puig, 22, was third in slugging (.569) and was batting .302 with six home runs. They are the Dodgers' top two prospects, with Puig, a Cuban defector, ranked No. 71 and Pederson at No. 79 on MLB.com Top 100.
On the shelf: RHP J.R. Graham, Atlanta's No. 1 prospect and No. 95 on MLB.com's Top 100, is expected to miss at least a month after being placed on the Mississippi disabled list because of a shoulder strain. He had to leave a May 13 start after two innings and was given a four-week rehabilitation plan after being examined in Atlanta a couple days later. Graham, 23, was the Braves' Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season after going 12-2 with a 2.82 ERA for Class A Advanced Lynchburg and Mississippi. But he is 1-3 with a 4.04 ERA in eight starts for the M-Braves this year.