Florida Marlins catcher Paul Lo Duca rushes over to check on Chicago Cubs rookie Adam Greenberg after Greenberg was hit in the helmet by the first pitch he faced in the major leagues, from Florida Marlins relief pitcher Valerio Do Los Santos during the ninth inning, July 9, 2005, in Miami. The Cubs won 8-2. (AP Photo/Steve Mitchell)
Updated: November 4, 2012 6:26AM
MIAMI – Reeling toward the end of what they rightly admit is the most disappointing season in franchise history, the Miami Marlins threw up a one-day smokescreen.
Adam Greenberg, the former Cubs prospect who was hit in the head in his only major-league appearance in 2005 by a 92-mph fastball, got a chance to step to the plate again Tuesday night for the Marlins in a meaningless game against the Mets.
Greenberg walked to the plate to standing ovations from teammates and fans before striking out on three R.A. Dickey knuckleballs. After a groan from the crowd, cheers rained down as a grinning Greenberg returned to the dugout.
“Right now, hopefully this is the start of my career in this game that I wanted as a kid,’’ said Greenberg, who got a hug from Marlins catcher John Buck after Greenberg homered on his last swing of batting practice. “I feel like I’m going to show it, not in one at-bat, but this is the start of hopefully part two of my career, and that’s what I’m most grateful for.”
Most players applauded Greenberg’s return. They even subjected him to a rookie hazing ritual in the clubhouse before the game, making him sing and dance in front of the team.
“This is not a gift, not a hand-out,’’ said outfielder Scott Cousins. “It’s something he has earned, and it’s definitely warranted.’’
No one wanted to ruin the positive vibe. But privately, a handful of players questioned why Greenberg, 31, should get a chance not given to other minor-leaguers whose careers were sidetracked because of an injury.
“I will respect everybody’s opinion in this clubhouse, but I don’t think it’s going to kill anyone to take one at-bat away from somebody,’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said.
“I know a lot of people want to have one at-bat in the big leagues. My kid does.
“To me it’s very positive for the kid. Very positive for us. … He makes me realize how lucky I was to play that many years in baseball and that many years in the big leagues and stay here for long time.’’
The Marlins signed Greenberg to a one-day contract last Thursday, capping off a tumultuous week in which closer Heath Bell ripped Guillen.
Greenberg will be long gone by Wednesday when the attention shifts back to Guillen’s future amid speculation he could be fired by the last-place Marlins.
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by Fred Van Dusen, who was hit by a pitch in 1955 in his only major-league at-bat for the Philadelphia Phillies.