2 years after skull fracture, Tyler Zombro reportedly signs with Rangers
Nearly two years after he suffered one of the scariest injuries in recent baseball history, Tyler Zombro has found a new baseball home.
Zombro agreed to a minor-league deal with the Texas Rangers on Saturday, according to multiple reports. Zombro will report to the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express.
The 28-year-old’s baseball career was sidetracked almost two years ago to the day that he agreed to a deal with the Rangers. It was June 3, 2021, when Zombro, while pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays’ Triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls, was struck in the head by a line drive hit by the batter he was facing.
Zombro fell face-first and immediately lost consciousness. The line drive, which traveled at 104 mph, caused Zombro to have a seizure and he fractured his skull. As he underwent surgery, Zombro received 16 titanium plates and 36 screws to help repair the bone and reduce the bleeding in his brain.
Zombro ended up spending five days in the intensive care unit and two additional days in the Duke University Hospital before he was discharged on June 9. Zombro underwent physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy before a CT scan in December of that year showed he had completely healed, allowing him to return to baseball.
After missing the remainder of the 2021 season, Zombro made a return to the mound in 2022, but it didn’t last long. He made two appearances with Triple-A Durham in April 2022, giving up three earned runs on five hits in two innings pitched before being sidelined for several weeks. He eventually had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in June 2022, ending his season.
The Rays kept Zombro in their organization through the offseason, but they released him at the end of the spring training.
Zombro, who began his professional career with the Rays in 2017 as an undrafted free agent, has yet to pitch at the major league level. He also hasn’t been able to pitch much over the last few seasons due to his injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic, which canceled the 2020 minor league season.
But Zombro has pitched well when given the opportunity for much of his minor league career. The right-handed reliever is 11-4 with a 2.91 ERA, 144 strikeouts and 28 walks in 179 ⅓ innings pitched over 99 appearances in five seasons.
Despite a 27-17 record that has them in first place in the AL West entering Saturday, the Rangers have had some bullpen difficulties this season. They have the seventh-worst bullpen ERA in the majors this season, but it has the worst ERA in baseball (6.98 ERA) since April 24.
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