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Giants' pitcher hit by liner working his way back to the big leagues

San Francisco Giants' fans have seen the replay a thousand times, from every conceivable angle at every speed.

So has Joe Martinez.

But while we wince every time that April 9 Mike Cameron line drive cracks into Martinez's forehead, Martinez doesn't.

"They replay stuff and show it on ESPN a million times," Martinez said. "And it's tough to watch. It's tough on my parents. It doesn't bother me to watch because it didn't hurt. I just didn't feel it. Maybe it's for lack of brain.

"I had a massive concussion and a hematoma, and a couple fractures to go with that pretty gnarly black eye," he said. "But I was never nauseous or dizzy. I was a little disoriented because I had to sit up in bed for two days straight, and I was a little sore after I started to move around again, but no problems."

The Giants took Martinez off the field for 10 weeks, and his road back to the major leagues continues tonight when he starts for San Jose against the Modesto Nuts at John Thurman Field.

He gave up one run in three innings on Thursday against Stockton, and tonight is scheduled to throw four innings as he rebuilds his strength and command.

"About 60 pitches, that's the plan," Martinez said. "I feel fine. It's a matter of ironing things out mechanically and finding release points again. Other than that I feel I could go nine innings and be fine."

The live television coverage of the incident by Comcast was remarkable. In addition to the obvious, it captured the pained reaction of Cameron as he ran to first base, and a telling shot of Fred Lewis, who was playing left field for San Francisco.

Lewis sunk to his knees, in deep flashback.

In the 2004 playoffs, while playing for San Jose, Lewis smacked a line drive at John Thurman Field that fractured the skull of Modesto A's starter Brad Ziegler.

"I have talked to Freddie a little bit," Martinez said. "He's always asking how I'm doing and he told me about the time he was on the other side of that when he hit Brad Ziegler in the head. I know he doesn't feel good about that, and it's not something he'd want to talk too much about."

That reaction, Martinez said, is an insight into the baseball fraternity. As much as you want to beat the guy wearing the other uniform, no one wants to see anybody get hurt. Cameron later sent Martinez a well-wishing gift of the best Milwaukee sausages.

"Mike Cameron didn't want to hit a ball off my head," Martinez said. "I think he'd much rather have had a clean single to center any day. I always thought growing up watching baseball that the players were always like TV characters instead of real people."

No they're real people, with real injuries. Even if some of those injuries don't hurt.

Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at bvanderbeek@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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