The box score doesn't begin to tell the story of the road Poncedeleon has navigated since May 9 to return to the mound in a competitive setting.
Pitching for Triple-A Memphis that day, a line drive off the bat of Iowa's Victor Caratini hit him near his right temple. The right-hander underwent emergency surgery to alleviate pressure on his brain, followed by a couple of weeks in intensive care in Des Moines, Iowa, and then three months of inactivity at home in Florida.
On Sunday, it was back to business as usual for the 6-foot-4, 185-pound right-hander who is in camp as a non-roster invitee. Poncedeleon logged just 29 innings with Memphis last year, going 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA. He's not expected to open the season in the majors, but getting back on the mound Sunday was the first step toward renewing his quest to make it there.
Daniel Poncedeleon pitched 2 innings of relief, in a stirring first outing since brain surgery after a liner struck his head in a Triple-A game last May 9. He, like some teammates, now wears a hard insert inside his cap. On Sun.'s Fox Sports Midwest telecast, pitching coach Mike Maddux said, "I think it's an individual choice and I think it's a medical choice, so I let the guys with the educations and the guys that are wearing them make those decisions."
Poncedeleon walked two and struck out two on Sunday in the Cardinals' 7-3 loss.
"That's a great story, which I hope has the ending that he wants," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told reporters after the game, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
In January, Poncedelone received the Bob Bauman Award for physical comeback, an award given the the St. Louis chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Afterward, Poncedelon shared his gratitude via social media.
To the best fans in baseball, I am truly grateful for what you guys have given me. I hope to give back to you this year https://t.co/zyGXeD26xK
— Daniel Poncedeleon (@_ponce14) January 15, 2018
Earlier this month, in an interview with ESPN's Outside the Lines, Poncedeleon talked about his initial goal for spring training.
"I want to prove to them I'm ready to go and they have nothing to worry about with the head," Poncedeleon said.