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September 26, 2017

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Greenberg gets 2nd chance in majors after beaning

MIAMI -- Adam Greenberg, who was hit in the head by the first pitch he faced in the major leagues seven years ago and had not played at that level since, got a special second chance on Tuesday.

Greenberg was signed by the Miami Marlins on a one-day contract and finally had the major league at-bat it seemed would never come after that fateful 2005 pitch.

Up against New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey — one of the top pitchers of the season — Greenberg struck out on three pitches but that only put a small crimp in a day he feared would never come.

The roaring crowd rose as one when Greenberg walked to the plate and Marlins teammates leaning over the dugout railing joined the applause.

"It was magical," he said. "The energy in the stadium was something I never experienced, and I don't know if I will ever experience it again. You could just feel the genuine support. It was awesome."

The Marlins made the gesture because they were the opposing team in 2005 when Greenberg — then of the Chicago Cubs — was hit by a pitch thrown by Valerio De Los Santos. He sustained a concussion that caused vision problems, vertigo and headaches lasting hours at a time, and it was nearly two years before he regained full health.

Back in the big leagues at age 31, Greenberg took part in batting practice and then watched the early innings from the bench.

By the fifth inning, Greenberg had a bat in his hands as he paced in the dugout. In the sixth, manager Ozzie Guillen sent him up to bat as a pinch hitter.

After watching the first pitch for a strike, he swung and missed at the next two. The crowd groaned, then renewed its cheers as Greenberg returned to the bench. He smiled as he received hugs, back slaps and high fives from his teammates-for-a-day.

"A lot of mixed emotions there, getting high-fived after a strikeout by the entire team," Greenberg said. "It was different."

When Greenberg slipped his bat into the rack, he was still grinning. The at-bat had lasted 33 seconds.

"It's going to last an eternity for me," he said.

Greenberg said he hoped the game marks the beginning of a career comeback. He didn't play in the minor leagues this year and hasn't been with a major league organization since 2008, but still harbors hopes of a big league job.

"I want to show everyone I can play, although you can never really truly do that in one at-bat, especially if it ends up being against Dickey," Greenberg said.

"Life throws you curveballs. Mine threw me a fastball at 92 (mph), and it hit me in the back of the head. I got up from it, and my life is great."

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