But his 2012 season is over after he suffered two displaced fractures in his neck and a slight concussion Sunday when he dove for a fly ball against Auburn at Plainsman Park late in a 4-3 LSU victory.
With the ball tailing away from him towards left-center field, Sciambra dove and his head and neck collided awkwardly with the wall and bent at an angle.
After the ball landed and was recovered by left fielder Raph Rhymes, Sciambra lay on the field for several minutes in obvious pain and required medical attention before walking off under his own power. But X-rays and an examination at an Auburn hospital revealed the fractures.
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“By the time I got out there to center field, he was already moving his extremities, which was obviously a very positive sign,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “I didn't really think of it in terms of an injury to his neck. I was worried he might have a concussion and would have to leave the game. He was able to sit up and was conscious and could talk, and you wouldn't think anything was wrong with him. He wanted to stay in the game.”
But when LSU trainer John Michelini asked Sciambra if he had blacked out at all, the player said he had briefly and that was the impetus for removing him from the game.
Still, when Sciambra left the field under his own power, Mainieri felt like the real danger was past.
“I couldn't believe it when John called me and told me he had a fracture,” Mainieri said. “It's a non-displaced fracture. He also had an MRI. His spinal column looked very strong and unaffected.”
Despite evading worse damage to the spinal column, Sciambra will be in a neck brace for up to 12 weeks, ending his college season and likely devouring most of his summer availability as well.
|Chris Sciambra: Moved into the starting lineup to accomodate JaCoby Jones' move to second base|
All of that is meaningless to Mainieri, though, who said he was heartbroken until he got the news that Sciambra’s long-term health was not in danger.
“The only thing you can think is, ‘Please let this kid walk again,’ ” Mainieri said. “The game seems so irrelevant at that point. All you care about is that the kid is OK. Fortunately our prayers were answered on that and he’s going to be fine.”
Sciambra had started the last 16 games and had upped his batting average to .246 after a slow start with two doubles, a triple and 11 RBIs. He had also solidified the outfield defense and his skills allowed Mainieri to shift sophomore JaCoby Jones back into second base.
“I thought Chris Sciambra was improving every day,” Mainieri said. “I thought he was becoming a very significant player on our team. He made four or five catches over the weekend that were better than average catches. He's playing really an outstanding center field, but offensively I throw batting practice to him every day, and I can see him getting better and better.”
For now, though, that progress is halted, which is the bad news.
The good news is that Sciambra avoided more serious injury and still has a future to look forward to off the field and, from all indications, on it as well.
LSU issues official thanks to Auburn
LSU has released an official statement of gratitude to Auburn and Athletic Director Jay Jacobs for the attention Sciambra received after he suffered the injury.
Besides the medical attention given to Sciambra by the AU medical staff during the game, Jacobs authorized a university plane to transport Sciambra back to Baton Rouge after a doctor suggested that a car or bus ride would not be comfortable.
“This was a wonderful show of school-to-school camaraderie that is greatly appreciated by LSU,” AD Joe Alleva said in a statement issued by the Media Relations Department. “An injury of this type can be particularly harrowing for a young student-athlete and Auburn’s actions helped alleviate the problem of getting Chris back to Baton Rouge. My thanks to Jay Jacobs for his generosity.”
Mainieri also issued a statement: “The actions of the Auburn staff during and after the game made a frightening situation much more comfortable for Chris and all of us at LSU and we all appreciate the generosity of Jay Jacobs in bringing Chris back home. One of the great things about the SEC is the sportsmanship exhibited between schools, and this is just another example of that spirit.”