JUPITER -- It was a shade over a year ago that Alfredo Silverio lost control of his car in the Dominican Republic, glanced off a concrete wall and rolled several times.
Silverio, a promising minor-league outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers when the accident occurred, was so badly injured that he spent more than a week in the hospital, briefly lost his memory, underwent Tommy John surgery on his right throwing arm and missed the entire 2012 season.
The accident now behind him, Silverio, 25, said he is almost fully healed and doesn’t intend on remaining idle this coming season. He hopes to be patrolling center field for the Marlins — if not at season’s start, then soon after — as the team’s first Rule 5 Draft success story since 2005 when Dan Uggla was plucked out of baseball’s surplus pile. Uggla turned into the quintessential diamond in the rough.
Standing on one of the practice diamonds Monday behind Roger Dean Stadium, where in two weeks the Marlins will embark on a spring training that will stand in marked contrast to their one a year ago when expectations were sky high, Silverio was asked what thoughts went through his head on Jan. 23, the one-year anniversary of his accident.
“Time flies,” Silverio said. “It was one year ago, the accident, when I almost lost my life.”
Now he is preparing to resume his baseball career.
Silverio was among about 20 or so players to show up for a voluntary, pre-spring training minicamp. Other than outfielder Juan Pierre, a workaholic throughout his career, most were like Silverio: young and eager to show they belong on a major-league roster. The Marlins, essentially denuded from their after-season fire sale, have openings.
As such, they’ll have what is believed to be a team-record 71 players in camp, all vying for 25 roster spots.
Silverio, being a Rule 5 selection, is a special case. If he doesn’t spend the entire season on the 25-man roster, the Marlins must return him to the Dodgers. One alternative: Silverio starts the season on the disabled list. But if that’s the case, he would have to be activated at some point and spend at least 90 days on the 25-man roster.
“I’m going to stay here,” Silverio said confidently.
Silverio, who said he felt he was ready to break into the majors with the Dodgers in 2012 — that is, until the car accident totally altered those dreams — said he is certain this will be his year.
“I think this is the best opportunity I’ve had in my career to reach my goals,” he said.
Silverio is often described as a five-tool player, though he downplays his power skills. He runs, hits for average and fields his position well. With Double A Chattanooga in 2011, his last previous season before the accident, Silverio hit .306 with 85 RBI and 76 extra-base hits, including 16 home runs.
The Marlins know that, with the accident and time off, they were taking a gamble when they selected Silverio in the Rule 5 draft in December.
“We thought ... that it was a reasonable risk to bring him in,” Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. “We really like him in center field. If he’s not completely healthy, we understand that as well.”