SARASOTA, Fla. -- Bryce Brentz got a late start on spring training this year. But with one swing of the bat in the fifth inning Friday, he seemed to make up for at least a little bit of lost time.
Brentz was set to be a non-roster invitee to major league camp in early February, but in mid-January, the outfielder accidentally shot himself in the left hip while cleaning a handgun.
He was left with a wound and bruising that took a few weeks to heal, but with no lasting physical concerns.
His baseball path, however, was forced to detour. Instead of coming to camp early and being evaluated by new manager John Farrell and the new coaching staff, Brentz was forced to wait and report with the other minor leaguers and didn't see game action until earlier this week.
"You get that first invite,'' said Brentz, "you want to come in and make a good impression. You hate to miss out on that, but you have to respect their decision. They haven't seen my play yet, so I'm hoping to come in here and do some things well and showcase my skills.''
As if on cue, Brentz hammered an 0-and-2 sinker from Luis Ayala out to left-center in his second at-bat in a 3-3 tie with the Baltimore Orioles.
"He's a sinker guy,'' said Brentz of Ayala. "He threw a sinker, then threw a split. A guy like that, you just have to stick with one location. He left it up and I was able to put a good swing on it. It feels like, man, we're on the right track, finally. It felt good.''
Just being back in uniform and on the field again serves as redemption for Brentz.
"It feels good,'' he said. "What happened was an accident and I hate that put the publicity on the Red Sox and on myself. But it's one of those things that happened. We both moved on and I'm happy to be here.
"It's been great. I've been working on what I had to work on in minor league camp -- approach, getting my swing back together, rehabbing and making sure that flexibility and strength is there.''
Brentz said he's taken some ribbing from teammates about the incident.
"We've had a lot of fun with it,'' said Brentz. "We've got a couple of handshakes going on now, some good names going on. Trust me, we've had some fun with it.''
Brentz has plus power -- as evidenced by his .478 slugging percentage at Double A Portland last year -- and a very strong throwing arm. What he needs to do is be more selective at the plate and finish off some of the more raw aspects of his game.
But the important thing is that he's 100 percent healthy now after the scare.
"The training staff's done a great job,'' he said. "There's really not a protocol for something like this because it doesn't happen that much in baseball. But they found a good doctor and everything is fine. I got really lucky and I know I got lucky. But as far as recovery, it's been good and the strength is back. So everything's working out pretty well.