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Panther wants to return to dugout

By EMILY NIPPS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 12, 2002

TAMPA -- Plant pitcher Patrick Goitia, who had a minor stroke last week, had surgery Sunday and is expected to return to light activity in the coming months.

From his hospital bed at Tampa General Hospital, Goitia talked about returning to his team's dugout -- even if it is just to cheer on the Panthers -- and hoped to be doing some throwing and running in three to four months.

"The doctor said maybe I'll be able to go home Wednesday," Goitia said. "I'll have to go through physical therapy, but we haven't talked about the specifics yet."

Goitia was rushed to the emergency room Wednesday after suffering from a transient ischemic attack, or mini-stroke, during a doctor's visit. He experienced paralysis and weakness on one side of his body and was unable to speak or move his lips for 10 to 15 minutes.

A junior new to Plant's varsity team, Goitia began having problems with numbness and blood clots in his arm in November. When the symptoms got progressively worse during this month's practices, he began seeing medical specialists to diagnose the problem.

According to Goitia, a muscle in his arm was "too big" and was putting pressure on an artery, thus causing the blood clots and loss of feeling. During Sunday's surgery, doctors cut Goitia's muscle to relieve the pressure on the artery, and two blood clots were removed.

"One of the clots was so old, it was white, but the other clot was new," Goitia said. "I've got some nasty scars right now, but other than that, I feel okay."

Plant coach Bo Puckett said he is eager to get Goitia back in the dugout, especially after watching how hard the right-handed teen worked in the offseason.

"I think he's very adamant about getting the opportunity to come back this year," said Puckett, a former personal trainer at the University of South Florida. "I look forward to getting him out here, because I know it will get my players fired up. He's going to be a big boost to the team."

Before Goitia began complaining of arm troubles this season, Puckett was planning to make him the team's closer.

"It's going to be hard for him to throw a ball after this, and it's going to be very frustrating for him," Puckett said. "But if he is patient and has the will to come back, I think he can."

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