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MWL notes: Toledo shows no fear

Wisconsin pitcher flourishing years after scary face injury
May 3, 2012
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers right-hander Tommy Toledo watched the video of his injury once, then refused to look at it again. He's put a horrific line-drive injury in his rear-view mirror as he pursues his goal of reaching the Major Leagues.

A 6-foot-3 reliever, Toledo was selected by the Brewers in the 11th round after a remarkable comeback. Pitching for the University of Florida in March 2010, a line drive scorched off the bat of a Charleston Southern batter and smashed into Toledo, shattering his face. He underwent an 11-hour surgery and now pitches with eight plates and 36 screws inside of his face.

"I didn't know anything about Tommy's line-drive injury until I heard about it up here," Timber Rattlers pitching coach David Chavarria said. "He shows no fear on the mound. That goes to his credit. He doesn't allow it to affect him. When he pitches, you wouldn't even know he had been through something like that. It puts into perspective what this kid is made of, to come back from an injury like that. It really shows what this kid has in his stomach."

Toledo said he never considered letting the injury intimidate him.

"It was just a freak accident," he said. "It was a baseball thing. The injury was something I had to get over. It was the last year that they had the composite bats. It was a quick line drive. There was nothing I could do. I tried to get a glove on it, but I just missed it, and it hit me pretty square. It was hit hard. The kid really got a hold of it.

"I remember everything. I didn't go unconscious. I remember seeing my white jersey covered with blood. I was laying there for a while until the trainers got out there. I walked off the field. I remember the whole day. It was a crazy ordeal. I could tell by the looks of the trainers and the coaches that it was serious. I was frustrated, because the season before, I red-shirted because I had shoulder surgery."

According to Toledo, his first priority was getting back in baseball shape.

"I had to get my weight back up and get stronger," Toledo said. "I lost about 20 pounds. I was on a milkshake and mashed potato diet, because I couldn't eat. It was two months after I got hurt, and then I came back out and pitched again.

"I'm not the first person to get hurt. I won't be the last. I just want to play every day. I still look in the mirror, and I see myself as a baseball player. I get my strength from my parents. I never wanted to think about fear. It was a freak accident. All I wanted to do was get back as soon as I could."

Toledo is 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA and one save in 12 innings over eight outings for Wisconsin.

In brief

Hot hitter: Peoria's Paul Hoilman extended his hitting streak to 15 games with two singles Wednesday. The streak was extended in style against Lansing on April 24 with a walk-off grand slam that beat the Lugnuts, 6-2.

Great week: Lake County Captains outfielder Luigi Rodriguez tore up Midwest League pitching for a .556 batting average for the week. In four games, he hit two homers, a triple and drove in five runs. In three of the four games, Rodriguez had three hits.

Big-time effort: Wisconsin's Drew Gagnon had the look of a Major Leaguer at Milwaukee's Miller Park. Gagnon pitched eight scoreless innings as the Timber Ratters' beat Dayton, 3-0. The Rattlers are the Class A affiliate of the Brewers and attracted 6,616 fans to the Brewers' home.

Curt Rallo is a contributor to