accidents

NEWS ‘I figured out a way around it’: Rays acquire pitcher legally blinded by childhood accident

'I figured out a way around it': Rays acquire pitcher legally blinded by childhood accident

ST PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Bay Rays acquired a minor league pitcher with an inspiring backstory on Wednesday.

When Jeff Belge was 9 years old, he was involved in a bizarre accident that left him legally blind.

According to Syracuse.com, Berger was rock dancing with his cousin when a piece of shale flew directly into his right eye, piercing his cornea. Two surgeries and 18 stitches were required to repair the shattered cornea, the outlet said.

However, the battle was far from over, as a few years later, Belge’s left eye began to respond to trauma to his right. This caused him to develop an autoimmune disease called sympathetic ophthalmia.

Belge began to complain that his vision in his left eye was becoming blurred. Fortunately, medication and steroids were also able to prevent blindness in his left eye, Syracuse.com said.

Back in 2014, he told the media that his right eye could only see the outlines of objects and only a few colors. He also added that his vision in the right eye was 20/300 to 20/400.

Despite all the setbacks, he never lost hope and found success pitching last season in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm system.

Now, the 25-year-old is headed to Tampa Bay after the Rays traded right-hander JP Feyereisen to the Dodgers for Belge.

In 2019, Belgi was drafted by the Dodgers in the 18th round after attending St. John’s University.

While on the mound, the southpaw could be seen wearing protective glasses, but said his only focus while pitching was living out his dreams.

“I figured out how to work it out. It didn’t really bother me,” Belge told the New York Post. “It’s just me having a dream and following it. It’s the bumps in the road that I have to overcome.”

Belge will pitch for the Double-A Rays next season.

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