All 34 players, coaches, and staff members of the Elizabethton (Tenn.) Twins were safe Tuesday after their bus crashed head on with a car driving the wrong way on an interstate highway in Jacksonville, Fla., killing the driver of the car.
The Twins believe the wreck could have been much worse but for the skill of the bus driver, identified by Jacksonville television station WJXT as Philip Garypie.
“Every indication is that the bus driver did a heck of a job” to keep the bus from rolling over in the highway median, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. The bus was headed from the Twins’ camp in Fort Myers to Elizabethton, where the Twins rookies are scheduled to open their Appalachian League season Thursday.
Twins third base coach Joe Vavra got a 3:30 a.m. phone call from his son, Tanner, the Twins’ 30th-round draft pick last week. Tanner Vavra told his father that Garypie did all he could to avoid a collision with a Honda that was driving south in the northbound lanes of I-295.
“They had just changed drivers 15 minutes earlier. They were passing a semi on the interstate and got to the top of a hill, when here comes this car, coming right at them,” Vavra recounted of his phone call with his son. Both vehicles swerved into the median in an effort to avoid a collision. “The bus driver [yelled] ‘Brace yourself,’ and [Tanner] got down. [After the impact], the driver got the bus under control and pulled to the side.”
The driver of the car, identified by WJTX as Corshane Brown, 28, was pronounced dead at the scene.
“It’s tragic. You’ve got to feel for any family that loses a loved one,” Ryan said.
Hicks’ hamstring better
Aaron Hicks, who went on the disabled list June 10 because of a strained left hamstring, took early batting practice Tuesday and shagged fly balls in the outfield. “He’s doing fine,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Says his leg feels better.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean he will be activated once he’s eligible a week from today, however. “He hasn’t run the bases yet,” Gardenhire said, nor subjected his hamstring to strenuous game-speed running. And for that, the manager believes Hicks will need a rehab stint in the minor leagues before he is activated.
“It’s good that he’s not feeling it, but I’ve been through plenty of hamstring injuries, [and] you always feel really good until the adrenaline is flowing,” Gardenhire said. “Once the adrenaline is flowing and you explode, it’s totally different than just running on the bases or doing little drills. … There will probably be a rehab [assignment] somewhere in there. He’s not quite there, but hopefully he’s getting closer.”
Ryan said no decision about a rehab assignment has been made, though “it would be for a minimal amount of time.” He also said he expects Hicks to eventually reclaim the leadoff spot he held for the season’s first 10 games.
“First, he’s going to have to show he can get on base. But yeah, I would say at some point, and I don’t know when it’s going to be, but … ideally, he would hit in the one hole because we’re looking for a guy,” Ryan said of Hicks, who went 2-for-43 as the Twins’ leadoff hitter to open the season. “It’s just a matter of performing. Things didn’t go so well early in the year, so we took the pressure off him.”