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05/15/06 1:37 PM ET

Rowand recounts catch, crash at the wall

Phillies center fielder recovering from breaking nose on fence

PHILADELPHIA -- Four days after breaking multiple bones in his face running into the center-field wall at Citizens Bank Park, Aaron Rowand remembers it all.

He remembers chasing down Xavier Nady's fly ball in the first inning of Thursday's game against the Mets.

He remembers seeing the chain-link fence in front of him and knowing that there was no chance to stop -- and for that matter -- no reason to stop.

And he remembers holding up the ball in his glove to make sure that the umpires and the crowd of 28,224 knew he made the catch.

"I didn't want to go into the wall for nothing," Rowand said.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the opening frame, Nady hit a long fly ball to center. Rowand caught the ball running full speed with his back to home plate, and he ran face-first into the unprotected fence in center, breaking his nose and surrounding bones, including the orbital.

Rowand was taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where he received stitches and a splint on his nose. He underwent surgery the following morning.

For a player who once ran into a cinder block wall during his college career at Cal State-Fullerton, Thursday's catch and collision was nothing new.

"I play hard," Rowand said. "That's how I played as a kid. My coaches and my father taught me to play like that."

Despite the proximity of the injury to Rowand's eyes, his vision suffered no ill effects from the impact.

The splint will be removed on Thursday, at which time he will be cleared to take swings off a batting tee. Four days later, he expects to be cleared for full baseball activity, leaving four days until he comes off the 15-day disabled list.

And for those critics who said that the final out of the inning and the runs he saved were not worth missing two weeks, Rowand isn't listening.

"People can call me stupid," he said. "It doesn't bother me."

Rowand's catch served as an inspiration to Gavin Floyd, who went on to pitch a shutout in the rain-shortened game.

It seems to have had the same effect on the Phillies as a whole, as the team has won 13 of its last 14 games.

Rowand, who was brought in, in part, for his attitude, thinks that his play has inspired the rest of the team.

"I think it can be contagious," he said.

Four days after the now-legendary catch, the center-field fence looks a little different -- and not just because of the wire that popped out when Rowand made impact.

When Rowand got his first extended look at Citizens Bank Park in early April, he pointed out the danger of that spot in the outfield to team management.

The padding for the wall arrived last Tuesday, the installation began Friday -- when the Phillies traveled to Cincinnati -- and it was finished Monday.

"I said that if I hit that, there's going to be some damage done," Rowand said he told the Phils.

He was right.

As he sat in the emergency room Thursday night, Rowand was able to watch replays on television, and the center fielder said that it didn't bother him too much to watch it.

"It hurt a lot worse when I did it."

Zachary Levine is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.