Vogelsong returns to PNC Park to visit Bucs

Veteran righty leaves hospital, takes in game vs. D-backs with wife from suite

Vogelsong returns to PNC Park to visit Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- Four days after he was hospitalized with multiple facial fractures, Ryan Vogelsong returned to PNC Park.

The Pirates were thrilled to see Vogelsong in their clubhouse Thursday morning before their 8-3 win over the D-backs, which he watched in a suite alongside his wife, Nicole.

"It's good to see him up, moving around. We know he wanted to be here and get back with the boys. That was good," said right-hander Gerrit Cole, who started Thursday's game.

"It's always nice when you can get a brother back in the clubhouse, especially after a scary moment like that."

Vogelsong saw many of his teammates, including Cole, and visited with manager Clint Hurdle less than an hour before the game began.

"He's such a competitive guy, he was talking about what had happened. I just said, 'Stop. Leave it alone. We're on the other side of it,'" Hurdle said. "He wanted to get to the guys, able to come in here, and seeing him today was really good for everybody. It's been heavy on our hearts, heavy on our minds. Been a lot of prayerful support."

Vogelsong was struck in the face by a 92-mph fastball while batting in Monday's game against the Rockies. The veteran right-hander was carted off the field and taken to Allegheny General Hospital, where he spent the following three days as doctors waited for the swelling to subside around his injured left eye.

Vogelsong exits game on HBP

Throughout the process, Pirates players and officials have said Vogelsong is in good spirits. Catcher Francisco Cervelli visited Vogelsong every day, and Hurdle remained in contact with Nicole by phone.

"His wife, Nicole, is an absolute warrior. I've talked to her more than I've talked to him," Hurdle said. "She's posted up. You talk about next man up? Next woman up became very important in this situation. The son, Ryder, all of it. It's a good community here."

Vogelsong's eye was swollen shut immediately after he was hit, but his vision has improved. Pirates head athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk said there is no longer a concern that Vogelsong suffered any "significant damage" to the eye itself.

"Straight from the hospital," as Nicole tweeted, Vogelsong arrived at PNC Park on Thursday morning to check in with his teammates and watch Cole pitch.

Vogelsong and Cole have quickly become friends, even attending a pair of Pittsburgh Penguins games together during the National Hockey League playoffs. "He wanted to see a game. He needed to get out of that environment," Hurdle said. "He got to see a long one, too. Got to see a whole lot of stuff."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.