Marshall makes triumphant, emotional return

Marshall makes triumphant, emotional return

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Evan Marshall made his triumphant return to the mound in the ninth inning against a split squad of A's on Friday, almost exactly seven months after a line drive fractured his skull during a Triple-A game in El Paso, Texas.

Marshall retired the first two batters he faced before walking Richie Martin in the D-backs' 6-3 win at Salt River Fields.

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Then, as fate would have it, Danny Oh grounded right back to the mound. Marshall didn't hesitate, plucking the ball with his glove and tossing it to first baseman Kyle Jensen for the game's final out.

In the aftermath, there were emotional hugs and high fives all around.

"A lot of things have happened in such a short amount of time," Marshall said in the clubhouse. "It's just a blessing to be able to go back out on the mound and do what I can do."

Marshall sustained the injury playing for the D-backs' Triple-A Reno affiliate on Aug. 3. He had surgery to release pressure on his brain in the immediate aftermath and then spent three weeks hospitalized in El Paso and later in the Phoenix area. He worked his way back through outpatient therapy after that.

Friday's outing was the result of great medical care and Marshall's hard work. Marshall said he lost 20 pounds after the injury and has kept it all off.

"I'm so close to the [D-backs] staff, and they've been so great through all of this," said Marshall, starting to choke back tears. "The D-backs, in general, I owe them a lot. I've been in the best of hands from the moment it happened, which has been great."

Now it's time to get back to baseball. Two years ago, in Marshall's rookie season, he became a mainstay of the Arizona bullpen. Pitching a lot in the seventh and eighth innings, he worked 57 games and had a 2.74 ERA and a 1.385 WHIP.

Last year, Chip Hale's first as manager, Marshall fell off the map and was demoted to the Minor Leagues. Now, Marshal believes he's shown the D-backs everything he has and is ready to get back into the game.

"At this point last year, he never was throwing the ball the way he has this spring," Hale said. "He's in way better shape than he was last year coming into Spring Training. His stuff has been really crisp. Is he on the team? That's to be determined. But he has a very good shot at it if he keeps throwing the ball the way he is."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.