Hitting coach Greg Colbrunn makes return to Red Sox coaching staff, describes scary experience with brain aneurysm

June 30, 2014 - 4:24 pm

Coming home from a 10-game road trip, the Red Sox were welcomed home by a familiar face. Hitting coach Greg Colbrunn was at Fenway Park on Monday, less than four weeks after suffering a brain aneurysm while the Red Sox were on the road earlier this month, ready to resume his place on the Red Sox coaching staff. Colbrunn was admitted to the Cleveland Clinic on June 4, while the Red Sox were taking on the Indians, with what would be diagnosed as a sub-arachnoid hemorrhage, better known as a brain aneurysm. The 44-year-old described the scary experience during a recent interview with "The Bradfo Show" podcast. "It was a Wednesday, we were in the Cleveland, getting ready to get on a bus about 12:30. About 12:15, I went to get up and get my stuff, get down to the bus, and it just felt like I had a bad headache," Colbrunn said. "My neck had been bothering me, and I've had neck surgery in the past, and everything kind of tensed up and I was like 'What in the world is going on here?' "I go to get on the bus, and everything keeps getting worse. So I talk to the trainer and we end up getting a taxi to the field, and at that time I figured it was just my neck and everything locking up and maybe something got out of whack. To be honest, from one o'clock on, I don't remember. I have no recollection until three days later." Colbrunn didn't pass out at the ballpark, but was acting strange enough to warrant a trip to a nearby hospital prior to the game. "The bits and pieces I've got, over the course of the next four or five hours I was just acting weird, not really making sense, not knowing where the cage was and just not being myself," Colbrunn said. "About four or five, maybe six o'clock, the trainer came over to check me out and said 'this doesn't sound too good.' I guess I was complaining about a bad headache so they ended up taking me over to the Lutheran Hospital, it was the closest one to the stadium, I had a CAT scan there and they saw the bleeding, so they rushed me to the Cleveland Clinic because they're well-equipped to handle that...the Cleveland Clinic is probably one of the best places to be. I was in real good hands and they took care of me from there." After undergoing a procedure to relieve the bleeding, Colbrunn spent about two weeks in the hospital in Cleveland before spending some time at home. Once the encouraging prognosis was handed down and he was released from the hospital, Colbrunn began to get a better understanding of just how serious (and scary) brain aneurysms can be. "You do the research to find out what in the world is happening, and after I got out of the hospital a couple weeks later, you start reading up on that and it's one of those things that happen," Colbrunn said. "And a lot of people die from it because they don't get access to a hospital, they pass out by themselves, and everything happens. I was fortunate to be in great hands with the Red Sox here and be in Cleveland and get real good care and hopefully nothing ever comes of it." Despite the health scare, Colbrunn missed just 24 games. But over that span, the Red Sox are averaging just 3.1 runs per game. The Sox hitting coach says he's been keeping tabs on the team, even while in the hospital. "You're watching games here and there and they're on the west coast for 10 days and I'm trying to stay awake...you see the at-bats and see the struggles, you see the good at-bats and talking to these guys on a regular basis and knowing they're all doing the right things, working through it," Colbrunn said. Manager John Farrell said that the two spoke almost every other day, if not on a daily basis. While it may seem like Colbrunn's return from such a serious situation is quick, he says that the decision wasn't difficult, and the notion of letting the scare halt his career was far from his mind. The return to his old duties will be a gradual one, however. Colbrunn will not stay for Monday night's game, but will begin to work his way back into his role as hitting coach. "My first day back, there will be some repercussions," Colbrunn said. "Fatigue, being tired, getting some headaches, building up stamina, building up how long I can focus and talk...not verbally, but the concentration level and focus and using my brain for longer stints. The more I do, the better off I'll be." "Everything is pointing to him rejoining us in full capacity," Farrell said prior to Monday's contest. "The fact is we'll have 10 or 12 days here to build that endurance, with one weekend trip to Houston, but everything points to him being in Minnesota for the All-Star Game, so all of that is on tap." In Colbrunn's absence, the Red Sox have relied on minor league pitching coach Tim Hyers as well as assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez. Hyers will stay on as Colbrunn eases back into the daily grind. The Red Sox are happy to have Colbrunn back on board, and the hitting coach is grateful to have recovered from the scare and anxious to get back into the swing of things. "Finding out what actually transpired, you're like 'holy cow,' learning more about what actually happened and the mortality rate and I'm thankful I'm with the Red Sox, and you're looking around thinking 'life is short,'" Colbrunn said. "You miss being around the game, the coaches, the players, just miss doing it all. "Being home was nice, relaxation, but being here at Fenway, one of the greatest places to be in the world, especially during the summer, and it's nice to be sitting here."