Sportress of Blogitude

Kevin Pillar reacts to emotional return after frightening hit-by-pitch to face

Kevin Pillar made his miraculous return to the lineup Monday less than two weeks after being hit in the face by a pitch, and the New York Mets outfielder was understandably emotional after the team’s 6-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Pillar was left bloodied, battered and bruised after being drilled in the face by a 94 mph fastball from Atlanta Braves pitcher Jacob Webb on May 17. The injuries suffered by Pillar required surgery to repair multiple nose fractures. On Monday, the Mets activated the outfielder, and Pillar tweeted out his excitement over his return.

Pillar didn’t crack the starting lineup but was put in the field as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning.

“That was an emotional moment for all of us, just witnessing it,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said, per MLB.com. “I mean, I didn’t think this guy was going to be playing at this point. It’s just amazing. This guy’s tough, we knew it before the incident happened and we’ve learned it more after the incident.”

Making the day that much more special, Pillar singled in the top of the eighth inning in his first at-bat.

While Pillar indicated it will take up to four to six weeks for the fractured bones in his nose to fully heal, he’s expected to be back in the starting lineup during the Mets’ series with the Diamondbacks. Pillar downplayed his remarkable return, saying it’s his job.

“I get paid to play baseball. There’s a lot of people that go through injuries, go through illnesses and expect to have to show up to work every day,” Pillar said. “I don’t feel any different. …

“That’s kind of how I was raised, that’s how my parents are, that’s how they taught me and my brother to be, and I don’t expect to be any different. When I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go.”

Pillar went on to say that it’s his goal to contribute each and every gameday as he continues to heal.

“The thing I pride myself on the most is being available,” Pillar said. “It was important for me to get back as soon as possible, considering everything that’s going on with this team right now.”