Beau Amaral had a return to remember for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos Wednesday night.
Out for two months recovering from the removal of an eight-inch blood clot and a rib, Amaral didn’t miss a beat in his first game back with Pensacola, smashing a lead-off home run in the opening inning to propel the Blue Wahoos to a 6-4 Southern League win over the Biloxi Shuckers Wednesday night.
Amaral finished the night with three hits as the Blue Wahoos improved to 13-13 in the second-half of the season.
“What a terrific comeback,” Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said. “We thought we had lost him for the season and he comes back this quick. It was a tremendous night.”
Amaral has been out since May 8 when he discovered he had a blood clot in his neck. It affected his non-throwing shoulder and he eventually needed to have his top right rib removed because it was pressing on the vein, which caused the clot in the first place.
He spent two weeks in Billings, Mont., doing a rehab start with the Mustangs and felt good coming off it. Hitting a homer in his first at-bat back was a scene straight out of a dream.
“When I got back to the dugout, I thought I was going to wake up and still be in the hospital bed,” Amaral said.
But no one needed to pinch Amaral, who also got the job done on defense, robbing Brett Phillips of a hit in the top of the seventh when he snagged a ball that seemed destined to bounce off the wall for a hit.
“I like playing defense more than hitting,” Amaral said. “It felt nice to make some plays.”
Eric Jagielo pushed the lead to 2-0 in the second with a double and Chad Wallach crushed the ball over the wall in left moments later to stretch the lead to 4-0.
The first-half South Division champion Blue Wahoos added two more runs in the third while Tyler Mahle nailed down his fifth win, allowing three runs on five hits and striking out five.
Closer Alejandro Chacin made things a little interesting in the ninth with the Blue Wahoos up 6-4. He loaded up the bases with no outs but shifted to a different gear to navigate his way out of the jam. Two pop-ups wrapped around a strikeout preserved the victory.
“He makes things exciting but makes great pitches when he has to,” Kelly said.
For Amaral, the feeling of winning is something that never gets old. He was batting .280 in 28 games before heading to the disabled list in May and hopes Wednesday’s performance is a sign of things to come. He can’t say enough about the support from his teammates during his difficult time.
“The guys were always texting me to ask how I was doing,” Amaral said. “I wanted to rehab as fast as I could to get back with the team. I’m so excited to be here.”
Read more in the July 28 edition of Navarre Press or subscribe online here.