PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The night before his first baseball game since undergoing right elbow surgery several weeks earlier, Alex Bregman dreamt he was going to be hit by a pitch. He woke up in a sweat, looked at his clock, which read 7 a.m., and went back to sleep happy it was only a dream.
A few hours later, in his third plate appearance in Saturday's game against the Mets at First Data Field, the Astros All-Star third baseman was struck on the left elbow by a Jeurys Familia pitch. Bregman was bruised but otherwise OK because he had just borrowed the elbow guard of teammate Alex De Goti.
“De Goti saved my life today,” Bregman said. “Or else I would have been on the shelf for a minute.”
Bregman, who underwent surgery on Jan. 11, made his Grapefruit League debut Saturday, drawing a pair of walks against Noah Syndergaard before getting hit by a pitch. He only swung the bat once in three plate appearances. He didn’t get any balls hit to him while he was in the game on defense, so the arm wasn’t tested.
“I got to throw the ball across [the infield] in between innings,” he joked.
Bregman, coming off a breakout 2018 season in which he finished fifth in the American League Most Valuable Player voting, opted for surgery after his elbow’s range of motion began to suffer this winter. The elbow had been bothering him for about three years. He eyed a March 1 return to action and missed it by a game, perhaps only because manager AJ Hinch didn’t want him to predict his return date so well.
“The body feels good, my arm feels 100 percent so just thank my trainers and strength coaches and everybody involved, my doctor, for helping me get back,” he said. “I feel really good. I think I need to get a few more games in before the season starts to get my feet underneath me. I feel good. I only got to swing once today and fouled it off.”
Back to the dream.
Bregman admitted he hates to get hit by pitches -- a fear that was only exacerbated following his late-night vision, and then further when that vision came to fruition.
“It doesn’t feel great,” Bregman said. “It’s bruised right now. It’s a bigger bruise right now than I had all of surgery.”
Bregman, 24, is coming off a career season in which he hit .286 with career highs in homers (31), RBIs (103), doubles (51), walks (96), on-base percentage (.394), slugging percentage (.532) and OPS (.926). He led the Astros in runs, hits, doubles, homers, RBIs, walks and OPS and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player.
He was also named the Most Valuable Player of the All-Star Game after hitting the game-winning homer for the AL. He’s the first player in Major League history to have at least 30 homers and 50 doubles in a season while playing the majority of his games at third base.