MLB

Phillies prospect explains tough decision to retire after losing eye in accident

Phillies prospect Matt Imhof had decided to retire at age 23, seven months after a freak accident resulted in the loss of his right eye.

The left-hander suffered the injury while training last June, writing on an Instragram post that "a large price of metal hit me in the head/eye resulting in a fractured nose, 2 fractured orbital bones, and most significantly, the loss of vision in my right eye. … It was decided that the best chance I had to live a normal life was to have my right eye removed and have a prosthetic one put in."

As many of you know on Friday June 25th I had an accident. A large price of metal hit me in the head/eye resulting in a fractured nose, 2 fractured orbital bones, and most significantly, the loss of vision in my right eye. I was immediately taken to the ER and then transferred to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, the #1 eye hospital in the world. That night, the doctors informed me that the damage to my eye was extreme and essentially that my eye had been crushed like a grape. The doctors told me they were going to do everything possible to reconstruct it but in all likelihood I would never regain sight in my right eye. The first surgery was somewhat a success but overall nothing had changed, so after discussions with my family and my doctors, it was decided that the best chance I had to live a normal life was to have my right eye removed and have a prosthetic one put in. This decision was not an easy one to make but to me it seemed like the right one so on Tuesday afternoon I went forward with the surgery. I'm currently still in Miami recovering from surgery but I'm doing well. This has been the hardest week of my life but I've had amazing support from my family and friends to help me get through it. For those who have been wishing me well, your support has not gone unnoticed and I appreciate everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers. I had the best doctors in the world doing their best work on me and for that I am grateful as well. Although this injury has been tough it could have been much worse...I'm lucky to still have vision in my left eye...I'm lucky that i didn't have brain damage...and I'm lucky to be surrounded my the most loving and understanding people in the world. I just wanted to write this message to let everyone know that even though I suffered some bad luck, I'm not dead. I'm gonna be alright, I'm gonna persevere, and I'm gonna succeed. It takes more than this to bring me down. Again thanks to everyone for the support.

A photo posted by Matt Imhof (@matt_imhof48) on

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Imhof detailed the decision to call it a career in a stunning first-person account on ESPN.com in which he talked about the injury, the tough choice he had to make afterward, the challenges of his rehab and recovery, and coming to the realization that he had to give up the game he loves.

"I still love the game of baseball and I'm proud of everything I accomplished in the game. It's opened doors for me I never thought I'd walk through. It's allowed me to represent my country on the biggest stage, and it's given me a platform to effect positive change in the lives of those less fortunate than myself. I am blessed that I was able to play this game for 18 years and will never forget the lessons it taught me along the way.

"I'm a firm believer that baseball, through all my struggles on and off the field, prepared me for this moment. But the greatest thing baseball ever did for me was teach me who I could be without it."

Imhof is continuing to pursue a degree in business finance at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he is the assistant pitching coach for the baseball program.

A second-round pick by the Phillies in 2014, Imhof went 13-10 with a 3.69 ERA and 147 strikeouts in 173 innings over three seasons in the minor leagues.