05/26/2004 11:21 PM ET
Notes: Minor back in the Majors
First baseman happy to be given second chance
By Rich Draper / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- The man called "Tiny" is back.
|Damon Minor has been stinging the ball since his laser eye surgery. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Only this time, Damon Minor, the one-time 6-foot-7, 270-pound giant of a Giant, is not so tiny anymore. Or as myopic.
After two seasons with San Francisco, the first baseman was dealt to Philadelphia on May 19, 2003, his career as a promising Giant -- and a pro ballplayer -- starting to fade before his 30th birthday.
The huge player had rocket-to-the-moon power and decent defensive skills but he seemed washed up when he couldn't get his act together in the Phillies' minor league system. At his low ebb, Minor was teaching kids the nuances of the game last year in Edmond, Okla.
Laser eye surgery and a loss of 30 excess pounds later, Minor has returned to San Francisco after a sizzling partial season at Triple-A Fresno, where he led the Grizzlies with a .344 average, 10 doubles, nine homers and 33 RBIs.
"I can see the ball a little bit better, and that helped out a lot," said Minor, called up on Tuesday when first sacker J.T. Snow had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. "I had real bad vision anyway [20/600] and had trouble with my contacts, but had laser surgery last September and now I have 20/15 eyesight. You can definitely see better at night and see changeups."
Minor is a different man now, in decidedly better shape physically and in a better frame of mind.
"They always say hard work pays off and I decided to work again," said the father of a 2-year-old son, Jackson. "There are things you have to do, but just trying to stay positive. Last year was a learning lesson that you can never give up. It's a privilege to come back here and get a chance to play. When you're struggling, you grow and learn.
"It was part of my life that I let go and decided not to do it again," said Minor. "I figured this could be the last go-round, and I wanted to give it all out. I was giving baseball lessons back home and at the time I felt I wasn't ready. It does help to be older -- I'm not a 22-year-old rookie anymore. I'm getting gray hair now."
Minor's hiatus from the game was disappointing and stressful, but he re-signed with San Francisco last February -- he had no other options -- and suddenly his career was re-ignited.
"At that time, I was fortunate enough to still be playing baseball," said the Giants' 12th selection in the 1996 First-Year Player Draft. "You just work hard and try to get back in. I had a good spring and people were noticing. It was comforting to be able to see the ball and hit it -- and catch it. I can actually read a clock now."
Minor tried laser surgery three years ago in San Francisco but his eyesight was too poor, the surgical technology not yet perfected.
Snow surgery: Snow underwent surgery earlier Wednesday, a 20-minute debridement procedure by Giants orthopedist Dr. Gary Fanton. He is expected to begin rehab Thursday and should be out about six weeks.
"It was a best-case scenario," said trainer Stan Conte of the operation, which involved smoothing the surface of cartilage and flushing out 10 loose bodies from behind the knee. "It was like having 10 little thorns on the bottom of your foot."
Snow suffered knee soreness in Spring Training then twisted it against Chicago last Thursday.
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.