Five weeks and two days ago, Chris Bassitt left the field on a stretcher, his face bloodied and his eyes swollen shut after being struck by a 100.1-mph line drive off the bat of White Sox outfielder Brian Goodwin. The Oakland A’s hurler was hospitalized with a fractured jaw and a broken cheekbone, among other facial injuries, all of which required surgery.
At the time, it looked like the 32-year-old’s best season (12 wins, 3.22 ERA) had come to an abrupt and decidedly unceremonious end. But somehow, against all odds and perhaps his better judgment, the 6’5” right-hander returned to the mound for Thursday’s series finale at the Oakland Coliseum, limiting the visiting Mariners to a single hit over three shutout frames. Bassitt’s fastball velocity was noticeably down—his four-seamer topped out at 93.8 mph—but it was still a courageous and fearless effort from a player only 37 days removed from the most traumatic on-field experience of his career.
“I am very blessed and thankful for the circle that I have made in baseball. That’s not just Oakland. That’s the White Sox, the owner of the White Sox, the staffing of the White Sox. When I got hurt, I had my former trainer literally in the ambulance with me. I had physical therapists with me,” the first-time All-Star told NBC Sports Bay Area after logging 48 pitches in a no-decision. “When things happen like that, you really find out who’s with you and I’m beyond blessed to have the people that I have with me.”
And if that didn’t give you goosebumps, this heartfelt post, courtesy of Bassitt’s Twitter account, surely will.
An unheralded 16th-round pick who lost over two years of his career to Tommy John surgery, Bassitt has had to work for every opportunity he’s been given, taking the long, scenic route to big-league stardom. Four games out of the Wild Card with barely a week to go, it would take a miracle and a half for the A’s to carve out a playoff berth at this point, but obviously, that didn’t deter Bassitt in the slightest.
The A’s would ultimately come up short, falling 6-5 to the surging Mariners (winners of five straight), but don’t let the end result take away from what was an inspiring performance by Bassitt.