LSU coach Paul Mainieri knew something was wrong when saw the dent left by a pitch that struck the right side of Greg Deichmann’s face last Friday evening.
“I could tell there was something wrong because there was a deformity in his face, an indentation,” Mainieri said of the junior outfielder. “I’m no doctor, but I could tell that it was a broken bone in his face. I was kind of, quite frankly, a little queasy. I just felt so bad for the kid.”
And yet, exactly one week removed from that scary moment, Deichmann will bat cleanup and play right field in LSU’s opening-day lineup.
Deichmann practiced for the first time Wednesday after undergoing surgery Sunday morning to repair three fractures in his zygomatic arch, a non-functional bone in his right cheek. He visited a doctor in Lafayette on Thursday morning, and the doctor cleared him to participate in LSU’s season-opening game against the Air Force Academy at 7 p.m. Friday.
That was the outcome Deichmann always figured would happen, even before the dent was fixed.
“I was sitting in the training room right after I got hit and the biggest thing was, I’m going to be able to play opening night,” Deichmann said. “We were sitting at the hospital and I was telling my dad, ‘I’ll live with the dent in the side of my face; I don’t care. But I’m not missing Friday night.’ ”
He’ll have some new gear to work with. LSU ordered a custom helmet that features what is essentially half a football facemask. That should protect Deichmann’s face in the event of another high-and-tight pitch.
Deichmann had not yet taken batting practice with the new helmet when he spoke with media Thursday afternoon, but he said he did not anticipate any issue with it.
Though the moment was scary, in reality, Deichmann is probably lucky it wasn’t worse.
He did not display any concussion symptoms. The bone he fractured — the zygomatic arch — also only really has a cosmetic purpose, meaning he could’ve played with the dent if he wanted to.
“If Greg didn’t want to have surgery, he could’ve not had it and lived a very normal and healthy life,” Mainieri said. “He just would’ve had a big indentation in the side of his face.”
The surgery itself, as it was explained to Deichmann, sounded remarkably similar to pulling a dent out of a car.
“He went in … right above my ear, made an incision, then just came down here and popped the bone back out,” Deichmann said. “I went and saw him today, and he said as much force as it took to push it in and break it, that’s how much force he had to apply to pop it back out.
“It might’ve been an hour-long procedure. I got to New Orleans around 7 a.m. (Sunday) and I was home by noon.”
Essentially, Deichmann needed to make sure the post-surgery swelling went down according to schedule — typically 48 hours, his doctor said — and that his new helmet would provide appropriate coverage to his face.
With Deichmann in the fold, LSU does not have to figure out how to replace its best power hitter. He hit 11 home runs as a sophomore, which is 28 percent of the total home run output of LSU’s returning players.
As for the pain? Deichmann, whose face looks just like it did before last Friday, said there’s none.
“I’m good,” Deichmann said. “I feel great. No pain.”