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T.J. House feeling normal on the mound after a scary spring training injury

He remembers everything about the incident.

T.J. House was pitching in a spring training game for the Toronto Blue Jays in Florida when a line drive by Detroit Tigers batter John Hicks struck him in the head.

It was a scary scene. House was on the ground for a good 10 minutes before being loaded into an ambulance and taken to a nearby hospital.

But the 27-year-old never lost consciousness.

"I remember everything," House said. "I remember it coming off the bat, telling myself to turn away. It came back in the same lane that I threw it in. So it was like I threw it and it came back the same way and it catches you by surprise. I remember turning and it hit me. From that point it was kind of, 'what just happened?' I got my thoughts together, 'Oh you just got hit.'"

Medical staff came on the field and asked if he was awake.

"Yeah, I'm awake," House said.

Staff continued with the concussion protocol.

"The hard part was just laying on the field for that long," House said. "Once I got to the hospital and they assessed me and kind of relieved me with a little bit of pain medication, I was a lot better."

Monday afternoon, House returned to the starter's role, a month to the day of his spring training injury.

He pitched five scoreless innings for the Buffalo Bisons in their 9-4 win over the Rochester Red Wings in Coca-Cola Field. House gave up two hits and three walks with five strike outs in his season debut.

The biggest victory may have been overcoming the fear of returning to the mound. The sound of the ball coming off the bat can cause House to get a bit jittery, but his sense of normalcy is returning.

"I think at this point I've kind of moved on to the stage where it's not as jumpy when the ball comes off the bat," House said. "I'm feeling a bit more normal. It's nice," the injury "didn't put me back a long period of time and I didn't have any kind of symptoms for a concussion or things like that. It's good. It's nice to be able to play and have a smile on my face. It's definitely a scary incident I went through."

While there were no post-concussion symptoms, House does have to deal with the reaction his mind creates when hearing the ball hit crisply off the bat.

At first the reactions weren't limited to the sounds of the game. "Even with just noises. If there was a loud bang somewhere and I was standing in the room, I would jump a little bit," House said. "Still I hate when there's comebackers when I'm watching other guys. I think in our first game we had two, three balls hit right back at the pitcher and it's like 'Awk!' Because you just remember what happened."

The incident was scary but his road back to pitching wasn't difficult. It was just about taking time. It took him 12 days to throw a bullpen session and about another 15 before pitching in a game, throwing in a controlled inter-squad scrimmage in minor league camp. Once he got through that game and that first batter, House knew all would eventually be well.

"Anthony Alford was the first person up there and he swung at the first pitch," House said of his first interaction with live hitting after the injury. "I was messing with him a little after that – Man, you know first pitch you're gonna swing after I come back? But it's nice. It's just to get it out of the way. Because then it's like oh, everything's back to normal. It's just a freak accident that happened. It's not going to happen again. After that it was just normal again."

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